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Erik ten Hag gets exactly what he wants to hear from returning Man Utd midfielder


Manchester United midfielder James Garner enjoyed a successful season on loan at Nottingham Forest and is eyeing-up a permanent role in Erik ten Hag’s first-team squad

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James Garner has his heart set on securing a role in the Manchester United first-team next season – but a loan to another Premier League club is a possibility.

Garner, 21 played a key role in Nottingham Forest’s promotion success last season, featuring in 44 of their Championship matches – only one midfielder at the club featured more. During his time in the East Midlands, he built on his reputation of being a technically-gifted midfielder who looks to have a very bright future.

However, it remains to be seen what kind of a role he will play for the Red Devils next season. He is yet to speak to new manager Erik ten Hag but is due to meet him in early July as pre-season training commences.

That is according to the Manchester Evening News, with this fresh update coming after Garner claimed his performances in training will determine where his future lies.

“I’m not too sure, personally. I’ve not had much time to think,” Garner said of his future after England Under-21 lost 2-1 to Slovenia last week. “I’ve gone from Championship football straight to international football; I’ve not really had a breather or time to think.

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“But that’s what I’d like to do; go on pre-season and impress, it’s all up to me, really. It’s down to me as a player to impress him and hopefully make a mark.”

He continued by stating: “It’s huge (next season). I feel like last season my career has only just started, I’m still young, just turned 21 couple of months ago. I’ve had such a good season this season, with the national team and at club level as well. As you said, it’s very important now to hopefully play in the Premier League next season.”

James Garner in action for Nottingham Forest.
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Image:

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Would you like to see James Garner in the Man Utd first team next season? Have your say in the comments!

As a profile, Garner is largely press-resistant thanks to his great tight control and clever off-the-ball moment. He’s also an exquisite passer of the ball, perhaps one of the best across the whole Championship in the last campaign.

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His basic underlying numbers might not initially highlight this. For example, his pass success rate of 82.14 per cent, according to Wyscout, ranked the lowest of all Forest centre-midfielders who played over 500 league minutes.

Yet that can be explained by the bravery the midfielder shows in possession. He’ll often bypass short and safe passes to instead attempt more high-risk, high-reward penetrative balls through the lines.

He ranked top from that same group of Forest midfielders for progressive passes last season (4.87 per 90). He also topped the club’s midfield rankings in terms of progressive carries, too.

It is of course difficult to work out at this stage how that form would translate into a much tougher Premier League environment with United. However, the club are screaming out for a profile like his, highlighted by their pursuit of Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong.

Garner therefore has more than a fighting chance of solidifying a role within Ten Hag’s side next season and the midfielder himself has attributed his time at Forest as a key reason behind why he’ll be in a position to fight for a spot at United.

He added: “I think I’ve come on leaps and bounds this season. Played a lot of games, 50-plus now, so I’ve developed a lot physically, which was the question I was asked – whether I’d be able to play, whether I’m ready physically. I think I’ve shown I’m physically ready to play and, like I said, felt like I’ve come on leaps and bounds.

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“I just feel like, before I went on loan, there were questions of am I physically ready to compete, to play first-team football, and I believe that I’ve shown that this season. Not only playing a lot of games but how I’ve held my own in such a tough league and men’s football, you know. I think I’ve shown that.”

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