Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hints at Man Utd first-team role for "special" youngster

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted defender Teden Mengi could be set for a first-team role with Man Utd this season after describing the youngster as "special".

The 18-year-old made his senior debut for the club last month as a substitute in the Europa League clash with LASK.

United were already comfortably heading through to the quarter-finals when Solskjaer threw Mengi on, so there was little at risk.

Mengi then played a starring role for United's under-21 side in Wednesday's 6-0 EFL Trophy thrashing of Salford City, leading Solskjaer to suggest his time for the first team may not be too far in the distance.

"We always had that in the back of our minds that our academy will provide players and Teden has definitely impressed me," Solskjaer told BBC Radio 5 Live .

"It’s different trusting defenders on the big stage, of course it is.

"You’ve got to make sure he’s ready for it, you see examples of Ajax, who play in a different league, but Matthijs de Ligt… they made him captain when he was 18. You can see something special in them.

"Teden’s got something special in him. It’s about picking the right moment to give him a chance."

Mengi is still some way down the pecking order at United, with calls for Solskjaer to sign a new centre-half, too.

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Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are considered as the first-choice pairing, though doubts remain over the Swede's competency.

United then have Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Axel Tuanzebe as back-up, but at least two of those five are expected to move on this summer.

Smalling is close to completing a permanent £18million move to Roma after a successful loan spell last season, while Rojo is also up for sale.

The futures of neither Jones nor Tuanzebe are certain and both are currently injured, potentially opening up a door for Mengi to stake his claim.

Sadly for the youngster the lack of Europa League football this season gives him less opportunity to impress as some of his fellow academy stars had last season.

Another player who showcased his talents against Salford is 17-year-old midfielder Hannibal Mejbri.

The ex-Monaco starlet scored a goal and set up two more in the one-sided victory, but under-23's coach Neil Wood insists it is too early to be considering him for the first team.

Which of United's academy youngsters are you most excited about? Have your say below.

“As much as he’s a good player there’s still a long way to go with Hannibal, he’s still got a lot of learning to do, a lot of improving," Wood told the MEN. “You can see the good bits of his play, he’s got great feet, he’s got great vision, he’s tenacious, but there’s still work to be done with him.

“I wouldn’t get carried away and say he’s going to be in the first team, but he’s willing to work, he’s willing to improve, he’s got a very good understanding of the game and a very good understanding of what he needs to get better at as well."

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