Manchester United youngster James Garner deserves to break into the first-team plans of Erik ten Hag following a superb loan spell with Nottingham Forest this season.
The midfielder spent the back end of the previous campaign on loan with Forest, registering four goals from 20 appearances. He chose to rejoin them last summer, and the move has been hugely fruitful for his career.
Starting in the defensive midfield role, Garner did not make any goal contributions until December. However, his form has since been exceptional, bagging four goals and 10 assists in all competitions.
It has also coincided with Forest’ tremendous league run. They are currently three points behind Bournemouth for the second automatic promotion spot, and have a genuine chance of leapfrogging them.
Forest travel to the Vitality Stadium to face the Cherries on Monday night. With the better run of form this year, they will fancy their prospects of usurping the south Coast outfit to secure a long-awaited promotion.
Regardless of what happens, Garner has built his reputation. The next step in his career will be Premier League football. A loan spell has been talked about, but the youngster deserves to stay in the squad next term.
Ten Hag has been known for grooming young players and it won’t be a surprise if a number of academy graduates are introduced to the first-team fold for the 2022/23 campaign and beyond.
Garner definitely deserves to be the first in line. The 21-year-old has had an superb season at Forest where he has been consistent defensively with an average of 1.8 tackles and 1.4 interceptions.
He has also been involved in the build-up play in the final third while making 14 goal contributions. These are attributes which are bound to grab the attention of the incoming manager.
Garner has also impressed with his set-piece taking ability, but still needs to work on his distribution with an average of just 80 per cent passes completed over the course of the campaign.
Forest may potentially look to re-sign him on loan if they are promoted to the top-flight, but we believe Garner deserves a first-team berth at United if he makes a good impression in pre-season.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and WhoScored.com