Football

Tyler Blackett eyeing Angel di Maria's free-kick duty

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Manchester United defender Tyler Blackett has set his sights on becoming the club's new set-piece specialist, despite seeing record signing Angel di Maria take ownership of the role after his recent £59.7 million move to Old Trafford.

The England U21 international is a surprisingly good free-kick taker, and has scored a number of impressive goals during his time in the Red Devils' development squad.

He knows that it will take some doing to jump ahead of Di Maria in the first-team queue, but is hoping to get an opportunity to prove his talent to Louis van Gaal in training.

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Tyler Blackett quote:

"Hopefully further on into the season, you'll get to see me take one," he was quoted by the Daily Mail, in an interview with BBC Match of the Day Magazine.

"I'd certainly be happy to if the opportunity came up. For now though, Angel's the expert so I'm just looking up to him."

Blackett has enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom under Van Gaal's short tenure, having featured in all but one of Manchester United's Premier League games this season. Extensive injury problems in defence has meant that the 20-year-old has profited from the Dutch coach's philosophy to put faith in youth and promote from within.

Senior breakthrough

Few Red Devils fans had even heard of the academy product prior to the pre-season tour of the United States, when Blackett first caught his manager's eye following a series of assured performances at centre-back that boasted maturity beyond his years.

The talented stopper credits his increased involvement with the senior squad as one reason why he has seen a significant improvement to his game, and has particularly enjoyed watching Argentina international Di Maria at close quarters on the Manchester United training field.

"He's been amazing," he added. "He's one of the world's best players and the things that he does in training really make us stop and stare.

"The dribbling, the close control, these are things that a lot of players would like to have, but that not everybody's got. He really is special!"

Ambition

With three goals and three assists in his first five appearances, Di Maria has certainly made his presence felt at Old Trafford, and Blackett will be hard pushed taking over set-piece duties from the former Real Madrid playmaker.

A more realistic target for the relatively inexperienced star is trying to hold down his place in Van Gaal's first-team; an aspiration that at the present moment looks increasingly likely with fellow defenders Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling still struggling on the sidelines with injury.

This week's BBC Match of the Day magazine is on-sale from October 7 to 13 where you can read Tyler Blackett's interview in full.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Premier League
Football

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