After news of Manchester United entering the Milk Cup, now rebranded as the SuperCupNI, in the Junior (under-15) section, the competition has revealed a challenge match will take place between United’s under-18 side and Northern Ireland.
It will act as the curtain-raiser to the tournament, taking place on July 22 at Coleraine Showgrounds before the tournament’s traditional parade of all the teams competing.
The team will be managed by Northern Irishman Kieran McKenna who captained Northern Ireland at the Milk Cup back in 2005, as well as playing for his County in 2001 in the Junior section.
Man United have been absent from the SuperCupNI for the past two years after Louis van Gaal worried over a clash with his reserves being called up for pre-season games.
The trio of under-18s boss McKenna, José Mourinho and Nicky Butt, Head of Academy, have pushed through a return, though.
McKenna: “If our boys get in the first team, they will play against South Americans and others from all over Europe, Asia and the rest of the world so they need to get used to playing against those kinds of teams collectively as well as individual players. Their styles of play are different to British players so the boys who represent us at international tournaments gain some invaluable experience.”
Victor Leonard, chairman of SuperCupNI, said: “We have maintained a strong, friendly relationship with Old Trafford over many years and particularly in the past two years when they were not able to compete. We are thrilled to not only have them competing at Junior level but also participating in this new venture for us with the Under-18 game.
“We are constantly exploring different ideas to enhance the event and will be taking several innovative ideas forward as we look to develop it in the years ahead.
“To have United playing at this level is massive for us. Manchester United are a major global brand and the game will attract huge media interest.”