Ralf Rangnick has spoken out on his plans to utilise teenage midfielder Hannibal Mejbri inthe new year.
Mejbri is one of the most highly-rated youth prospects at Manchester United and is already an integral member of his Tunisian national side, helping them finish runners-up in the Arab Cup earlier this month.
The 18-year-old will be away on international duty again in January as he gears up for the Africa Cup of Nations, selected for the squad having only become eligible earlier this year after previously representing France at youth level.
Though he has a solid amount of experience at international level, Mejbri has featured just once for United’s senior side since making the switch to Manchester from Monaco in the summer of 2019.
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His sole first-team appearance came on the final day of last season during the relatively low-stakes clash away at Wolves, but Rangnick has insisted more first-team action will follow if Mejbri can translate his fine form country into his club football.
United’s interim boss told the club website : “We had 25 players in on Thursday and the only one missing was Paul Pogba.
“Hannibal was here training for the first time since I arrived, having just come back from the Arab Cup.
“Unfortunately for us and for him he will be missing out again in January because of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I watched the final before his substitution and I’m fully aware that we have another good, highly-talented player coming from our youth ranks and hopefully after the Africa Cup of Nations he can regularly train and be part of our group.”
Ragninck is no stranger to handing talented youth players a chance at senior level, as exhibited by the recent Champions League group stage game at home to BSC Young Boys.
United deployed six teenage players across the course of the 90 minutes, just the second time an English club has done that since Arsenal back in 2009.
Charlie Savage (18), Zidane Iqbal (18), Teden Mengi (19), Anthony Elanga (19), Shola Shoretire (17), all received their first minutes as United first-team players during the 1-1 draw with the Swiss outfit.
Rangnick could afford to bring on so many young players due to the lack of consequences on the line, United’s passage to the knockout stages of European football’s most elite club competition already secured prior to kick-off.
A trip to Newcastle United is up next for Rangnick’s Red Devils, their first league game since the away clash with Norwich on December 11, as the two games scheduled between Newcastle and Norwich were postponed due to Covid cases within the United camp.