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United duo experience a week with Wimbledon

Our former First Team Coach visited training in his new role

13 November 2021

Two of Manchester United’s promising youngsters spent the week with our first team squad, as part of a new “Pro Experience Programme”.

Northern Ireland Under-21 international goalkeeper Dermot Mee and Manchester-born centre-back Rhys Bennett, who have both played for United’s Under-23s, were put through their paces by our coaching staff and given a taste of life at senior level.

Former First Team Coach Justin Cochrane was back at our New Malden training ground this week, in his new role as United’s Head of Player Development and Coaching, and he explained more about the “Pro Experience Programme”.

“It’s an opportunity for the young players at Manchester United to go into senior environments in the league,” said Justin. “They spend a week with teams, where I know the manager and the environment they have there, just to get a feel of what men’s football is really like.

“They get the full ‘open door’ in terms of seeing what it’s like in training, meetings, doing a warm-up for a game – all they don’t do is play in a game. It’s a great experience for these young players, who are predominantly used to playing in youth fixtures, just to feel the different levels of intensity and what’s required of them in a men’s environment.

“The two players have really enjoyed it! They’ve been welcomed since day one. They’ve enjoyed the environment and the camaraderie of the team, and the players have been very helpful. They took them under their wing, and they’ve enjoyed training, as well as going to a game.

“Speaking to them, they speak a lot about the environment here at Wimbledon, how there seems to be a real group feeling. They’ve embraced the training and what the club is about. They know it’s the greatest story in English football!

“They understood that the club is fan-owned and what happened nearly twenty years ago. They took to the values of the club and the history and did a little bit of research. I spent some time here and made them aware of where they were going and the types of people that would be involved. They’ve enjoyed the challenge and being around good senior pros, as well as some really talented young players who’ve played league games.

“The boys have made friends, which is an important part of football. Playing football with a smile on your face! I’m sure they’ll be following the results and staying in contact, you never know what might happen in the future.”

Justin also felt there’s a possibility that other Manchester United youngsters could visit our training ground or even take a more active role with us in the future, in other cases.

“I’d like to think so,” said Justin. “I’ve spoken to Robbo about potential players. We had some conversations about potential loans.

“I just want to have relationships with good people and Robbo is doing a fantastic thing at Wimbledon. He’s got the right environment and trying to play the right way. I was impressed last season and I’m impressed even more so coming back here. It makes for an environment where people are going to get better.”

You can see the full interview with Justin Cochrane below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.

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