Key players on Manchester United's pre-season USA tour

The tour presents an opportunity to impress Jose Mourinho before the season begins.

Key players on Manchester United's pre-season USA tour
United train in Los Angeles | Photo via John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United are currently training in the USA ahead of five games against varied opposition to prepare them for a season in which they must do better in order to catch champions and local rivals Manchester City.

Jose Mourinho is without his full selection following the FIFA World Cup, where many of his players went far in the tournament meaning extended leave is required.

However, that gives the opportunity for young players to come through, and for the fringe players, or those with uncertain futures, to impress upon their boss.

Players who must perform at their best

It seems ominous to suggest that not all players will give their best in front of the manager in hope of increasing their playing time during the season, but for some, it's particularly important they display all their talents.

Chris Smalling will be keen to lead the back line to a succession of clean sheets as he faces stiff competition for places in central defence. Smalling was overlooked by Gareth Southgate, the England manager, for the World Cup which may force him to become more assured if he is to play a regular part in the team. With Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, and Marcos Rojo all vying for one of the two positions in front of De Gea, Smalling has the chance to cement his place in the team whilst others are on their holidays.

The tour also grants Anthony Martial with the chance to get in his manager's good books. Martial has struggled for playing time under Mourinho, leading to endless speculation of a move away from Old Trafford. This also affected his chance of becoming a World Cup winner, having not been selected by Didier Deschamps for eventual champions France. Martial's favoured position on the left of a front three is currently in the hands of Alexis Sanchez, but with the possibility of the number 7 missing the friendlies, and with Marcus Rashford on holiday, he has the opportunity to finally fulfil his bags of potential and mark it down as his own.

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Youth players to keep an eye on

The forward players in the squad include a few academy players hoping for their chance to shine.

Angel Gomes especially will look forward to the friendlies. The 17-year-old is a highly-rated player, resulting in two first-team appearances already under Mourinho, albeit neither provided an extensive amount of minutes.

Furthermore, Tahith Chong is another highly rated player from the youth set-up. With issues in the Mourinho's favoured 4-3-3 formation on the right wing, Chong could provide the spark of pace it is needing. Juan Mata is currently favourite to take up the role again but, in all honesty, the Spaniard's talents are suited in a central role as he lacks the pace or trickery to stretch the opposition or beat a man before racing down the line.

Lesser known players are the 16-year-old Mason Greenwood, who only made his debut for the under-18s this time last year and has been sensational in that age group playing up front, despite being a year younger than most of his opposition. Also with him is under-18s captain Jimmy Garner, a superb midfielder who was one of the under-18s' best players last season.

Ethan HamiltonJosh Bohui and Ro-Shaun Williams are three more academy players called up, playing in central midfield, across the front line and in central defence respectively. All three wil be hoping for minutes in the USA.