TWO of Northern Ireland’s most promising young players are hoping to be lining out in Rangers side against Manchester United in a curtain-raiser to the STATSports SuperCupNI international youth tournament at Coleraine next month.
Chris McKee and Kyle McClelland are both Under-17 Northern Ireland internationals and already catching the eye of senior boss Steven Gerrard.
The U-21 game, confirmed for Coleraine Showgrounds on Saturday, July 27 (5.30pm), will hopefully see United’s Glengormley teenager Ethan Galbraith involved.
Striker McKee joined the Ibrox club after six years with Linfield. McClelland, a defender, skippered Rangers to glory in the Alkass Cup in Qatar back in February.
Rangers have been involved with the STATSports SuperCupNI over recent years and young McClelland played with them , while McKee turned out for County Antrim.
McKee, who scored a hat-trick in Rangers Alkass Cup quarter-final, had been interesting several clubs including Nottingham Forest, but was in no doubt Rangers was the right destination for him.
Ethan has also enjoyed a meteoric rise since joining Manchester United two years ago.
He signed a three-year deal with a one-year scholarship followed by a two-year pro contract.
His involvement with the tournament goes back to his early teenage years when he too represented County Antrim.
Since joining the Old Trafford staff he was under the guiding influence of Fermanagh-born Kieran McKenna who has since moved up to the first team coaching staff.
Last year Manchester United lost out to Celtic in the challenge game, while United and Rangers actually met in the Junior tournament at Ballymena where the Red Devils won 1-0 thanks to a George Walters goal.
In 2017 an early goal from Swiss striker Nishan Burkart saw United triumph against a Northern Ireland side in an U-18 challenge match at Coleraine.
STATSports SuperCupNI chairman Victor Leonard said: “The introduction of the challenge game was very much an experiment and we are delighted that it has continued to be popular the fans who support our tournament in huge numbers.
“It is an entertaining way to kick off the competition with the parade of competing teams following the next day ahead of the week’s competition.”