Max Taylor, a 19-year-old defender, is in Manchester United’s squad for the Europa League game at Astana on Thursday, having undergone cancer treatment and got the all-clear only in September.
It is the first senior call-up for the Manchester-born Taylor after Ole Gunnar Solskjær stood down many senior players for the trip to Kazakhstan because United have qualified for the knockout phase before the penultimate group match. There are 14 teenagers in his 18-man squad.
Taylor joined United in 2014 but after a successful 2017‑18 season he required chemotherapy following testicular cancer treatment last season. Two months after resuming training he made a first appearance as a substitute in an October win for the under‑23s . “The position I was in this time last year, I was in my first few weeks where I had chemotherapy. I wouldn’t have thought, a year on, I’d be travelling with the first team,” Taylor told United’s website.
“It doesn’t matter what the environment is like, just being out there is massive. It’s been a dream since I can remember ever kicking a ball – being a Manchester United first-team player.” United flew to Kazakhstan on Tuesday afternoon in what is a 6,000-mile round trip.
Jesse Lingard has rejected suggestions he has taken his focus off football after the launch of his clothing range last year. “I think people think I’m actually involved in everything but I don’t pack the [clothes] and send them on,” the 26-year-old told the club’s podcast. “If you came home with me you’d just think I’m boring. I just watch Netflix all day, all week. I don’t do much else.”
He described himself as “an out-and-out footballer” and said he avoids being distracted by criticism: “There are a lot of things on social media, with people saying nasty things. You can’t get drawn into all that stuff. I don’t read that stuff, I don’t read papers. That’s why it’s tough for young footballers coming through now, they’re so attracted to social media and what people are saying about them.”