Manchester United youngster Joe Hugill has done nothing but impressed and progressed since his arrival to the academy from Sunderland.
The 17-year-old striker had a fruitful 2020-21 campaign since he joined in October 2020 scoring 12 goals in 21 appearances for the U23’s Premier League 2 season according to transfermarkt.
He then narrowly missed out on being promoted to the first team last season after a minor injury meant he couldn’t feature for the first-team squad at the backend of last season.
However, that didn’t stop his rapid development as Hugill as well as his academy teammate Charlie McNeill secured long term contracts at the club a little over a week ago.
Hugill featured regularly on the bench during the first team’s pre-season campaign but got some brief chancces towards the end of some matches as some of the main options were still on international duty.
He didn’t contribute much to the games but the experience is what is valuable for the player here as he got to mix in with the first team for the very first time.
On Saturday, Hugill played in a U23 friendly vs Championship side Hull City in a 2-0 loss to mark his return to academy action since training with the first team.
In an article from the Manchester Evening News, Hugill and McNeill’s next steps are heavily discussed after securing long term contracts at the club.
According to the article, United coaches were impressed with the duo and how they adapted their game to suit the physical defences of the Premier League 2.
However, the article in The MEN suggests that the first team exposure given in this handful of pre-season games may have been a little too much, too soon for the 17-year-old.
Hugill replaced Mason Greenwood at halftime when United faced Derby in the preseason opener, but then was substituted again 35 minutes later. After that match, game time became very limited as some senior players impressed and others came back from the break. At QPR, he played only 12 minutes and then was an unused substitute in the clash vs Brentford.
Now for Hugill, the immediate test switches to the start of the Premier League 2 (U23s) campaign as they face tough opposition in Leicester, Chelsea and Man City.
However, this will once again improve Hugill’s physique in the game and this experience will take them a long way.
The long term deals do hint at Solskjaer appreciating both Hugill and McNeill and seeing them as valuable additions to the club’s long term future.
It does remain unlikely that we will see them in the first team for a little while as the new campaign gets going and now the whole squad has returned from the international breaks.