Joel Pereira is ready to make his full Manchester United debut and start living up to manager Jose Mourinho’s expectations.
With the Europa League final against Ajax looming large on Wednesday, United will field an experimental side for Sunday’s Premier League dead rubber against Crystal Palace.
Mourinho’s men are already assured of finishing sixth so the United boss will turn to a string of young players for a match that will see Pereira make his first start.
After beginning the campaign on loan at Portuguese club Belenenses, the 20-year-old made his United debut as a late substitute in the FA Cup win against Wigan after being recalled in January.
Sunday will be the first time he has played for the first team since then, yet Mourinho has high expectations having recently tipped Pereira to be the “best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation”.
“They’re nice words and now I need to prove that he’s right,” he said.
“When one of the best managers in the world puts confidence like that in you, you can only feel good.
“I want to pay him back by training and performing well. I’m working hard every day and the next step is on Sunday, so let’s focus on that and we will see.
“It’s a big day coming up for the young players. As the manager said, some of us will get a chance and we’re looking forward to it.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good result, everybody will enjoy it and we’ll play well.”
Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matthew Willock, Kieran O’Hara and Zachary Dearnley are also set to be involved in Sunday’s squad, along with 16-year-old Angel Gomes.
Mourinho confirmed 19-year-old defenders Tim Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe will also play against Palace as a number of star players are reduced to watching briefs ahead of the Ajax match.
Sergio Romero has already been chosen ahead of star turn David De Gea for Wednesday’s Europa League showdown, leading to talk that the Spain goalkeeper may have played his last match for United.
Sunday offers Pereira the chance to prove his worth at Old Trafford and show what he has learned from the pair.
“We enjoy working together a lot,” he told the club’s official website.
“They are two amazing goalkeepers and two great people as well; they’re good friends. Each day I learn something new from them.
“Anything I need, I know I can count on them and they will always try to help me and tell me what I can do to improve.
“We have a very good relationship and, when it’s the right time, we have fun as well.”