There are gaps to be filled in the Manchester United midfield for the upcoming season, and an unexpected option could emerge in academy graduate Shola Shoretire, who has begun to prosper in a new role at the academy.
The 18-year-old has now made four appearances for Manchester United's first team, all of which have come in attacking positions out wide, an area of the pitch where he has spent much of his time during his development at the club.
Shoretire, on the other hand, has started the last two games for Neil Wood's Under-23s in a central midfield position and has performed admirably in both, starring in victories over Leicester City and Chelsea on Friday at Old Trafford.
Shoretire started in central midfield for the match, in a 3-4-3 formation, with Zidane Iqbal, in what appeared to be a very progressive tandem. The midfielder, however, was able to maintain control and, in addition to establishing effective links with the attack, he demonstrated his positional discipline by dropping deep to gather possession and propel his team forward.
In a recent interview with the Manchester Evening News, Wood said of Shola Ameobi: "We put him in a deeper role at Leicester and I thought he was excellent in the second half [of that game], in the build-up, getting on the ball, and in the way he was playing forward passes, driving past opponents, and driving the team."
"I wanted to take another look at him there because he hasn't played there in a long time and it's a new challenge for him, and I felt he performed admirably once more. With his positioning, he was quite disciplined, and he demonstrated some terrific parts that we were already aware of."
Part of a youngster's development in age-group football will frequently include changes in position, and Hannibal Mejbri went through a similar process with Wood's club last season.
The midfield position, on the other hand, is one in which Shoretire has demonstrated an aptitude, and it is an area in which United will want reinforcements over the next couple of seasons, with Paul Pogba set to leave this summer and Nemanja Matic's contract expiring in 2023.
There will be more chances for Shoretire to shine for Manchester United's Under-23s between now and the conclusion of the season, when they take on Arsenal at Old Trafford on April 22.
"This season, we started to play Hannibal a little deeper, as you can see with all the players. With Hannibal, we played him from the left side, as a 10. For Shola, there isn't a position he hasn't played at some point in his career, whether it's in midfield or attack "Wood went on to clarify.
He is still very young, but he has done a lot for a boy so young. He takes on the challenge, he has a fantastic personality and character, and he is a tremendous asset to have on my team because I can delegate a task to him and be certain that he will complete it.
I think he did excellently in this deeper character, and we wanted to take another look at him in this deeper role," says the producer.