Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained that Anthony Elanga’s promotion to the senior squad is overdue.
The teenager has enjoyed an impressive season with the Under-23s but was hurt in the Premier League 2 game against Leicester City in January. The collarbone injury has kept him sidelined, although he trained with the first-team squad at the Aon Training Complex this week and was added to the club’s B list for the Europa League.
In a great boost for the Academy forward, he has been selected in the group flying to Spain for the Europa League quarter-final first leg against Granada on Thursday night.
“I’ve got faith in the young lads, of course, and, in Anthony, we have a player with good skills, a great attitude and he scores goals from either the right or left, and he’s got good pace,” Ole told us.
“He’s not just there for experience, he might actually play a part, who knows? He’s got that X-factor and I like players with speed and acceleration and he’s definitely got that.”
Elanga signed a new long-term contract recently, after winning last season’s Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player of the Year award. The Sweden youth international has scored six Premier League 2 goals this term and was outstanding in the Papa John’s Trophy win at Salford City at the start of the campaign.
Later, during his press conference to preview Thursday’s tie, Ole added:
“Anthony will be in the squad, he’ll be on the bench. He’s impressed when he’s been in training with us. He was very unlucky two or three months ago, when he got a bad injury and he worked really hard to come back because he was just due to move into the first-team squad back then.
“He has got some X-factor, some attributes. It’s not like a gift, but the pace and acceleration and speed that he’s got, that’s a given for wingers. When he’s got that speed, he’s always got qualities I like. He’s a goalscoring winger, he’s confident. He likes to beat men and can finish with his right foot and left foot and he’s got a great attitude.
“He has an appetite and hunger to improve and when he’s been training with us, he’s not been fazed by it. He’s confident. He’s not just here for the experience, he’s ready to play a part if he has to.”