Paul Heckingbottom: Playing for Man United has to be Ashley Fletcher’s aim

by Ben Topliss

Barnsley caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom believes there is no reason why Ashley Fletcher can’t make the step up to the Manchester United first team in the future.

Fletcher has scored seven goals in 23 appearances for Barnsley in all competitions since he moved to the League One side on loan from Man United earlier this season.

Fletcher scored a brace in the 2-2 draw against Colchester last week and Heckingbottom was full of praise for him.

“That’s probably his most consistent game from 0-90 minutes,” Heckingbottom said.

“He did well. We felt our centre forwards would cause them problems; Fletch was really positive and buoyant before the game and you sensed that he’d have a good game. Luckily he got the two goals and most of our good play and opportunities were through our individual quality whether it was a delivery, a run or a bit of skill.”

When asked whether Fletcher can make the United first team, Heckingbottom added: “That has to be his aim. I thought he was good first half last week against Sheffield United and we spoke about that and how he can replicate that form over longer periods.

“And he did it, so fair play to him. He’s got some real good attributes and the more time he’s spending here with us the more he’s learning how to be effective in the game using those attributes.”

The likes of Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have impressed in the United first team this season and Fletcher will be keen to emulate their achievements at Old Trafford once his loan spell at Barnsley comes to an end.

Louis van Gaal has taken his fair share of flak this season but he deserves credit for placing faith in youngsters. James Wilson, too, will also be hoping to make an impression back at United having impressed for Brighton in the Championship in recent months. Along with Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Memphis Depay, the future looks to be a bright one at United.

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