When the squad for Manchester United’s game against West Brom was released, not many supporters would have recognised the name Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
Even fewer would have expected the Academy product to be involved at Old Trafford, but this happened when the youngster replaced Marcos Rojo in the 76th minute.
Having made a successful debut at the age of just 18, this article introduces yet another player from United’s youth ranks who has managed to break into the first-team.
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WHO IS BORTHWICK-JACKSON?
Borthwick-Jackson was born in Manchester, joined Man United in July 2013 and is a classy ball-playing defender who represented England at schoolboy level.
He is versatile, confident on the ball, strong in the tackle and a real presence on the pitch. He can play at either centre-back or left-back, and has even been deployed as a defensive midfielder on certain occasions.
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The new debutant is held in high regard by the youth coaches at the club and that was emphasised when he made his under-21 debut at the mere age of 16, as a second-half substitute against Bolton Wanderers. Borthwick-Jackson went on to score twice in the 2014 Milk Cup, including the winning goal in the final against Vendee in Northern Ireland.
The local lad has continuously improved and developed within the Academy system and last season he made more appearances for United’s Under-18’s than any other player.
Prior to being given a chance in the senior team this past weekend, Borthwick-Jackson had been making the step up to under-21 level under their coach Warren Joyce at the start of this season.
VAN GAAL GIVING YOUTH A CHANCE
Over the course of this season, manager Louis van Gaal has selected the likes of Paddy McNair, Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, James Wilson and now Borthwick-Jackson. The involvement of these players has ensured that at least one player to come through the United academy has appeared in all of their league matchday squads since 1937.
Both Van Gaal and Manchester United share a rich tradition of giving young talent first-team opportunities. After the game, United’s boss admitted he had been impressed by Borthwick-Jackson’s performances at under-21 level and had no worries about giving the 18-year-old his senior debut.
As United looked to see out the victory over West Brom and keep yet another clean sheet, Borthwick-Jackson didn’t seem fazed by the situation. He looked accomplished on the ball and his late cameo suggested he has what it takes to grow into the left-back role at senior level.
With Luke Shaw out injured for the entire season, Borthwick-Jackson could provide the main competition for Argentine international Rojo as Man United’s first choice left-back.