Why Ethan Galbraith was named to the Manchester United Europa League squad

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Manchester United’s initial squad roster for the final stages of the Europa League included Angel Gomes until someone can recall he left the club over a month ago. Such accidents have happened before. On the eve of United’s Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona last year, Irish full-back Lee O’Connor has been added to their European squad even though he was reported as suspended due to an expulsion from the UEFA Youth League.

Dylan Levitt must have wondered if there was an issue on the United Europa League squad page last week. Levitt, 19, made his full debut against Astana in November and had been tipped to be part of Ryan Giggs’ Welsh side for the European Championship. A loan was slated for January until illness sabotaged the plan.

Levitt, likely to leave on loan next season, cryptically tweeted “…” after it emerged he had been kicked out of the Europa League party. The tweet was predictably deleted and quickly pointed out that the post was unrelated to Levitt’s omission.

Thirteen academy graduates traveled to Cologne last week and 10 were part of the day’s squad against Copenhagen. All played for the first team, with the most recent trio Teden Mengi and Ethans Laird and Galbraith.

Mengi was promoted to first-team training ahead of the season’s restart and Laird was promoted in early July. Galbraith, a midfielder, was not involved in the sessions and only linked up with the senior squad late last week after recording a history of COVID-19 testing.

Levitt has been on the bench three times for Wales but Galbraith, 19, has already reached his first cap in Northern Ireland. Galbraith, born two weeks after Ruud van Nistelrooy’s parade at Old Trafford, took part in the European Championship qualifying victory over Luxembourg in September and, like Levitt, is eager to commit to a loan to secure a place in the team after the Euros suspension. Northern Ireland must first defeat Bosnia and Herzegovina in the dams.

Galbraith arrived at Astana and then trained with United in January before being recalled in March. Sources insist he was included “on merit” and impressed during the first team sessions at Carrington.

“He is the best young player outside the club’s first team group,” said a source close to Galbraith. Galbraith has been as staple in the Under-23s as Mengi and Laird, starting 18 times on Neil Wood’s enterprising squad, whose promotion was confirmed last week.

Galbraith’s volley on the EFL trophy return to Doncaster was one of United’s goals of the season at the junior and senior levels and he has performed impressively in both deep and advanced midfield roles.

“Mason, Jimmy Garner, Ethan, there are quite a few in this reserve team who are doing well,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he was still only the keeper at the end of January of the year last. United’s plan for their graduates is to spend a year in Channel 2 before a loan and Galbraith has completed this phase of his development.

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