Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the club’s young talents will be given a chance to prove themselves in the Premier League when the time is right.
Mason Greenwood, 17, scored as a youthful United beat Astana in their opening Europa League fixture at Old Trafford.
Midfielders Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes were also handed first starts as United named their youngest European line-up since 2012.
🔴 17-years-old🔴 First Manchester United goal
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) September 19, 2019
United return to Premier League action at West Ham on Sunday, where Solskjaer is expected to revert to his regulars, although Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw remain sidelined.
“Expectation is different now, all of the eyes are on them,” Solskjaer said on Sky Sports Saturday.
“Some of the boys can feel the heat, but we have got to try to protect them and find the right moment to put them in, give them guidance back behind closed doors.
“Social media and the media (in general) is different now, the limelight will be on them, so we will just try to guide them as much as we can. The back-up support here is great.
“They are almost ready, that is why they are with us in training, but it is a different matter playing for Man United when you go into the Premier League with big games.
“We have got a young squad, they don’t really have too many old ones to play behind.
“The young boys, though, you will see them enough. More in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, when it comes, once in a while you will see them in the Premier League – maybe tomorrow, we don’t know yet.”
United have also been boosted by goalkeeper David De Gea signing a new contract until 2023.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 16, 2019
Solskjaer hopes the Spaniard and summer signing Harry Maguire can help the club “build from the back”.
The Norweigan said: “We know we are in the starting phase of a new team, there are many players who have come and gone, now there are some youngsters coming in.
“We know we are one or two players light at he moment because of injuries, but that is a chance for the kids to play and for me as well to see if I can get the best out of them.”
Solskjaer accepts the Premier League is now “a different animal” from when he was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
However, the ambition for a return to that sustained period of success remains.
“Champions League is a target of course, and when we get to the end of the season if we can challenge for trophies,” he said.
“We want to be in and around, hopefully, for the Europa League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup and move up the table in the Premier League.
“Last season, sixth was disappointing after such a great run we had just after Christmas.
“I think if we can get the consistency, then I think we will get closer to the top two and let’s hope we challenge for other trophies.”