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Ethan Galbraith can grab his Manchester United chance, says Northern Ireland Under 21 boss


First steps: Ethan Galbraith during his United debut against Astana in the Europa League last November

First steps: Ethan Galbraith during his United debut against Astana in the Europa League last November

Manchester United via Getty Imag

First steps: Ethan Galbraith during his United debut against Astana in the Europa League last November

Ethan Galbraith has been urged to grab the opportunity with both hands as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to give him his breakthrough at Manchester United.

The Northern Ireland international has been tipped for promotion from the Under-23s to the Old Trafford first-team squad after impressing in the club's final pre-season game against Aston Villa and being kept at the club rather than loaned out before last weekend's deadline.

Like Jonny Evans before him, Galbraith made his senior international debut before appearing in the Manchester United first team, making his Northern Ireland bow against Luxembourg 13 months ago before Solskjaer introduced him from the bench in a Europa League tie against Astana last November.

Just last month he was again named on the bench at senior international level after being promoted from the Under-21s. It is considered only a matter of time before he is a regular in the Northern Ireland squad and a potential appearance in next summer's European Championship Finals should now be his goal.

Northern Ireland Under-21 manager Andy Crosby said: "Ethan has had a taste before and he has made his debut. He was part of it again last month in terms of being on the bench and that has to be his target.

"He has to aim to continue to develop at Manchester United and he wants to become a senior international. Whenever the opportunity arises, whenever that may be, he has to take it, but all he can do when he is with us is maintain the standards that he has set for himself."

Galbraith has been absent from United's Under-23 team in recent weeks due to a foot injury, which also kept him out of the first of Northern Ireland's Under-21 games during the international break.

He returned for the tremendous 1-0 win over Ukraine and his superb ability on the ball and work rate off it shone through.

Although at 19-years-old he still has another campaign for the Under-21s, it is unlikely he would play at that level many more times if he were to break into United's Premier League squad.

"Ethan adds a growing maturity on and off the pitch," added Crosby. "The development of him as a person is a credit to him, his club and his family. He has undoubted quality in possession, which everyone can see, but he's adding to his game and he's at a fantastic club where he is learning from great players.

"When he comes into our team he gives the group something that we maybe miss without him."

For a long time now Galbraith and Alfie McCalmont have been tipped as a future midfield partnership for Northern Ireland. They didn't appear together for the Under-21s as McCalmont missed the second game through suspension.

The Leeds United starlet, who is on loan at Oldham Athletic, won praise from Crosby for the attitude he showed in remaining with the squad even though he couldn't play against Ukraine.

"He's an Oldham player, and when the situation occurred, as it did with the injured lads, we spoke to the club," said Crosby.

"The biggest compliment that I can give them is that all the players wanted to stay in the group, not only to stay part of the group but also to support the players who were playing.

"I think that shows that what we are doing off the pitch is helping as well, and massive credit to Alfie and also David Parkhouse, who was with us for 10 days and didn't play a game."

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