Teden Mengi has been promoted to the Manchester United first-team squad indefinitely.
Mengi, 18, enjoyed more first-team exposure with a 30-minute outing in last week’s friendly defeat at Villa Park and has been training with the senior squad again this week.
The Mancunian started for the Under-21s in their 6-0 thrashing of Salford in the EFL Trophy last week but Mengi was withdrawn from the Under-23 squad for Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Leicester.
The MEN understands United are keeping the senior and junior squads separate at their Carrington training complex so they can train in their own bubbles and centre half Mengi is now part of the first-team.
Fellow centre halves Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo have been training away from the United squad amid the possibility they could leave before transfer deadline day on October 5 while Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are recovering from injury. Eric Bailly only started pre-season training on Monday.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has upgraded Mengi’s squad number from 71 to 43 after he was included in the squad for the Europa League straight knockout phase in Cologne.
Mengi made his United debut in the Europa League win over LASK in August and Solskjaer last week likened him to Matthijs de Ligt at the same age.
“We always had that in the back of our minds that our academy will provide players and Teden has definitely impressed me. It’s different trusting defenders on the big stage, of course it is,” Solskjaer told BBC 5Live.
“You’ve got to make sure he’s ready for it, you see examples of Ajax, who play in a different league but Matthijs de Ligt, they made him captain when he was 18. You can see something special in them.
“Teden’s got something special in him. It’s about picking the right moment to give him a chance.”
Mengi told the MEN last week: “For me I’m not looking too far ahead. Same old me, I’m just looking to work as hard as I can. If it happens, it happens. It’s down to me to keep working hard and if that opportunity comes then I need to take it.”