According to manchestereveningnews, Zidane Iqbal was the standout academy player on Manchester United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia. He also put in nifty displays in the week-long training camp in Spain this month, featuring in both friendlies against Cadiz and Real Betis.Information Guide Nigeria
His forward drive from midfield won a penalty in the 4-2 defeat to Cadiz, and his overall play had fans enthused.
He’s not been afforded any competitive game time in over a year, though. The 19-year-old was handed his debut in last December’s Champions League dead-rubber group stage clash with Young Boys by Ralf Rangnick. But ever since that brief late cameo, Iqbal has not got onto the pitch again. However, that’s not to say he has been shunned.
He has been training with the first-team under Erik ten Hag this season where he has seen fellow academy graduate Alejandro Garnacho quickly rise to prominence. Iqbal will be itching to do the same, especially with being at close-quarters with senior stars. The Iraq international has been named on United’s bench nine times this season, three of which have come in the Premier League including in the 2-1 win over Fulham just before the World Cup break, when Garnacho got the stoppage-time winner.NYSC portal
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The report has it that Iqbal will be spying two upcoming opportunities to make a similar impact. One of those comes today, when United welcome Championship leaders Burnley to Old Trafford for their League Cup bout. Not fewer than 16 first-team heroes jetted off for Qatar for the World Cup last month, although only 15 will return given Cristiano Ronaldo’s mid-season exit just days prior to Portugal’s opener with Ghana.
But the availability of those arriving back in Manchester from Doha for tonight’s clash with Burnley is unknown. Midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Fred both left Qatar at the quarter-final stage while Christian Eriksen returned slightly earlier after Denmark’s group stage exit. This is Iqbal’s best chance of game time this season, although he still has to contend with Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek for a midfield spot after both stayed at base during the World Cup.
If United progress and draw a lower-ranked team again in the next round, Iqbal could still play a part in the League Cup if not included against Burnley, especially amid the packed schedule. That said, as the season progresses, the less frequent such game-time opportunities occur.
But Iqbal can also hold out for possible minutes in United’s FA Cup third round tie with Everton on January 6. It’s clear Ten Hag is prioritising a top four chase, albeit insists he is going for every trophy.JAMB Result
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