As England’s European Championship exit post-mortem continues, attention has started to switch to who will be the next batch of youngsters to breakthrough to a team in transition.
MM takes a look through the youth ranks of the two Manchester heavyweights to see who can make the step up and deliver the success that English fans crave.
Sam Johnston (Manchester United) – A tall and athletic goalkeeper, Johnston will be part of the England squad to travel to Estonia tomorrow for the U19 European Championship. Highly regarded at Old Trafford, Johnston may one day compete with City star Joe Hart for England’s No.1 jersey.
Michael Keane (Manchester United) – The 19-year-old defender from Stockport already has three U21 caps to his name and will join teammate Johnston on the plane to Estonia. Twin brother of fellow United starlet Will, Michael has represented the Republic of Ireland at U17 and U19 level but has decided his future is white rather than green.
Tom Thorpe (Manchester United) – The last of the Manchester-based players to feature in Estonia, Thorpe’s versatility has seen him draw comparisons with future England star Phil Jones. Comfortable in central defence or as a holding midfielder, the 19-year-old Mancunian captained his United side to FA Youth Cup success in 2011.
TOM THORPE: Defender joins England squad in Estonia
Reece Wabara (Manchester City) – The 20-year-old stylish centre back spent three months on loan with Championship side Ipswich last season, making six first team appearances. Wabara made his debut for City’s first team on the last day of the 2010/11 season, replacing Pablo Zabaleta against Bolton Wanderers. Wabara will be hoping to feature more for the Blues in the coming season.
Reece Brown (Manchester United) – Younger brother of former England star Wes, Reece is another adaptable player capable of switching between defence and midfield. The 20-year-old made 15 appearances on loan to Oldham last season after joining them in March. Brown was a key feature for the England team who competed in the U20 World Cup in Colombia last summer.
REECE BROWN: Brother of former United defender Wes is one to watch
Alex Henshall (Manchester City) – The 17-year-old winger was a key part of the City side that competed in last season’s Next Generation series. Henshall is at a vital stage of his fledgling career and if his development continues at its current rate, he could well be making an appearance for the Premier League winner’s first team in the near future.
Jack Barmby (Manchester United) – Son of England international Nick, the quick-footed winger is fast making a name for himself in his own right. The 17-year-old was part of the United squad at last year’s prestigious Milk Cup youth tournament on the coast of Northern Ireland. He was top scorer for United’s academy team last season with a return of 13 goals and will be expected to improve in the 2012/13 campaign.
Will Keane (Manchester United) – The other half of United’s new set of ‘Neville Brothers’, Stockport-born fan favourite Keane is already an England U21 international. Forced to withdraw from the U19 European Championship through injury, Keane will be a big miss for Noel Blake’s side in Estonia. The 19-year-old made his first team debut for the Red Devils in the memorable 3-2 defeat against Blackburn Rovers on Sir Alex’s 70th birthday on New Year’s Eve.
Devante Cole (Manchester City) – Son of United and England legend Andrew, the England U17 joins the increasing number of young players trying to fill the boots of their famous fathers. The promising 17-year-old from Alderley Edge has been with City’s youth set-up since 2003 and is highly rated by both club and country.
DEVANTE COLE: Manchester United hero's son plays for rivals