Roger Byrne. Denis Irwin. Patrice Evra. These are some of the legendary left-backs that have featured for Manchester United over the years. But can the new youngster on the block, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who is reportedly set to sign a new bumper deal with the Red Devils, step up to the plate and make a name for himself at Old Trafford?
Injuries to Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian have left United boss Louis Van Gaal short of options at the back, and the Dutchman has turned to 19-year-old Borthwick-Jackson to fill in on the left side of defence.
Shoot’s Harry Atkinson takes a look at the youngster…
Where did it all start?
Borthwick-Jackson was born in Manchester, and supported the red side of the city, so it was his dream to play at Old Trafford. He is a former pupil of St Anthony’s Catholic College, in Urmston, where ex-United youngsters Ravel Morrison and Tyler Blackett attended. He joined their academy at the age of six in July 2003. He was aged just 16 when he made his Manchester United Under-21s’ debut, against Bolton Wanderers as a second half substitute.
The Mancunian youngster has represented England at youth level in the last couple of years as he continues to improve his game. Having initially featured for England Under-16s, he quickly graduated to the Under-17 set-up, making his debut at that level in the 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2013. He then went on to make his debut for the under-19s against the Netherlands on 12 November 2015
What position does he play?
Versatility is fundamental in the modern game, and Borthwick-Jackson certainly ticks all the right boxes for a youngster trying to make a name for himself in the Premier League. He is capable of playing as either a left-footed centre-back or left-back. He has also been tried in a holding role in midfield, but looks most comfortable on the left side of defence. He likes to venture forward and frequently finds himself in an attacking position from which he can put a good cross into the box.
What are his best attributes?
Strength, size and power play a key aspect to Borthwick-Jackson’s game. His strong build means he can hold off players when running with the ball, and also get stuck in and put up a good fight to help nullify opposition attacks. Being 6ft tall, the youngster uses his height to effectively deal with aerial threats, and also proves to be a threat of his own in the air in the opposition box. Defensively, Borthwick-Jackson can offer reassurances to his team and United have looked much safer with him at the back.
However, he is not only effective in defence. He possesses good pace, which gives the other team’s right-back a tough time. One of the standout attributes of Borthwick-Jackson are definitely his crossing. His outstanding deliveries into the box are very hard for opposition defenders to deal with, and they frequently create goalscoring opportunities or, even better, goals. He also occasionally utilises his sweet left-foot to try his luck from long range, although he hasn’t thus far found the back of the net in his senior career.
How far can he go?
Injuries have helped Borthwick-Jackson earn his opportunity in Van Gaal’s side, now he needs to continue impressing. If he can keep his feet on the ground then he has the ability and physicality to become a vital part of the Manchester United defence in the years to come. If the youngster retains his level of performance, the United boss won’t have an easy decision to make when Luke Shaw returns from injury. The future is bright for Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.