Who is Kobbie Mainoo? Man Utd teenager handed debut against Charlton in Carabao Cup
Kobbie Mainoo will make his full debut for Manchester United against Charlton in the League Cup quarter-finals at Old Trafford at the age of just 17.
The midfielder has been given the nod in midfield by manager Erik ten Hag for the clash against the League One side in a game in which the Red Devils will be heavy favourites to win.
GOAL takes a look at the youngster and explains why Ten Hag has rewarded him with a start against Charlton.
Who is Kobbie Mainoo?
Mainoo is a 17-year-old midfielder who joined Manchester United at the age of nine. Described as "creatively outstanding" by the Red Devils, Mainoo earned his first senior minutes in December's friendly against Cadiz.
Man Utd slipped to a 4-2 defeat to the Spanish side during their winter training camp, but Mainoo caught the eye with a goal for Ten Hag's side after coming on at half-time. He also enjoyed some minutes in United's following friendly against Real Betis.
Mainoo is considered to be one of the brightest talents in the club's academy and has risen rapidly through the ranks. He was part of the Man Utd team that won the Under-17s FA Youth Cup last season and has since been promoted to the Under-21 side.
Mainoo signed his first professional contract with the Red Devils at the end of last season.
The midfielder is the second academy talent that Ten Hag has promoted to the first team since taking charge of the club in the summer. Mainoo joins Charlie McNeill, who featured as a substitute against Real Sociedad in the Europa League, in making the step up to the first team under the Dutchman.
What position does Kobbie Mainoo play?
The teenager usually features in central midfield and is known for his creativity and attacking talent.
Travis Binnion, who manages the Man Utd Under-21 side in their Papa Johns Trophy games, has explained how he can play in a variety of positions across the midfield.
"In recent weeks, we’ve seen him play as a 6, 8 and 10, and that shows the making of a really good football brain and an athletic capability to play throughout the pitch and play in different roles and systems," he told The Athletic.
"He’s progressing nicely. His strengths are close control, good awareness, body contact. He’s really good in both boxes, he’s combative. He’s got a nice blend of many skills. He’s been training with the first team and doing well."
Why did Ten Hag hand him Man Utd debut vs Charlton?
Ten Hag has chosen to rotate his squad for the game against Charlton, as he contends with a congested fixture list following the return of domestic football after World Cup 2022.
The Dutchman has handed fringe players such as Tom Heaton, Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay some minutes but has also added plenty of youth, with Mainoo joining Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Elanga in the line-up.
Ten Hag's decision to start Mainoo is a big show of faith in the youngster, but he does appear to have been in the manager's thoughts for some time. The teenager made the bench for Man Utd's Premier League clash with Newcastle in October and against Wolves on New Year's Eve but did not get on.
What has Ten Hag said about Mainoo?
Ten Hag spoke about his decision to select Mainoo ahead of kick-off and explained why he's starting against Charlton.
"For him it's a great opportunity, he did very well during the winter camp in Spain. He also did very well against Everton in a friendly. He deserved to play, so I'm happy to give him the opportunity - it's about deserving it," he told MUTV.
"He has to [be ready], we have to step up, I think we have a strong team today. Licha, it's his first time back, but he's had some good training sessions and will be ready for this game. You always have to play your game, which means 100 per cent focus."
Mainoo now has the perfect chance to impress his coach against lower league opposition. Charlton are currently 12th in League One but did beat Brighton last time out in the League Cup.