He may have to take a different path to get there but James Garner will surely be hoping to emulate fellow Manchester United academy product Scott McTominay by cementing a place in the Red Devils midfield.
McTominay is four years his senior and went straight from the youth squad to the first team under Jose Mourinho without ever cutting his teeth elsewhere, while Garner has spent 2020/21 in the Championship looking to gain experience and prove his quality.
His time with Watford in the first half of the season was up and down but since moving to Nottingham Forest in late January, the 20-year-old’s become a consistent part of Chris Hughton’s starting XI and aided their upturn in form.
Once threatened by relegation, Forest have moved nine points clear of the bottom three while Garner has shown a maturity in anchoring their midfield.
The central midfielder has not missed a game since arriving in late January, playing the full 90 minutes in all but one of his 10 appearances and proving an asset on both sides of the ball.
The 20-year-old averages the joint-third most tackles (1.7) and interceptions (1.6) per game in the Forest squad, as well as averaging 0.4 blocks and 1 clearance per game – according to Whoscored.
On top of that, he averages 30.7 passes per game at an accuracy of 78.8%, including 0.6 key passes per game (Whoscored).
It is a telling statistic that Garner ranks higher than any other player in the squad by Whoscored’s average match rating (6.90), while Forest fans certainly seem to have been impressed by him.
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It looks set to be an interesting summer for Garner, who you feel with his current deal set to expire in 2022 will likely pen a new deal with United.
Beyond that, a Premier League loan move may beckon, though we have seen Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s willingness to involve young players and he could well force himself into the first team squad.
Garner has done his hopes of making it at Old Trafford no harm with his impressive performances for Forest over the past few months, that is for sure.