Man Utd duo James Garner and Ethan Laird on course for Premier League promotion double

The United youngsters are on loan at Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth respectively and both are eyeing up promotion to the top flight as we enter the final stretch of the season

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Rangnick believes full pre-season will help ten Hag at Man Utd

Manchester United’s quest to qualify for the Champions League next season looks all but over.

Saturday’s 3-1 defeat away at Arsenal leaves them with a mountain to climb to usurp both the Gunners and Tottenham into fourth place. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick gave a sombre response when quizzed post-match of their hopes of qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition next term.

The German said: “I’m pretty sure (they are over). For me, even before the game it was not very likely, but after today’s result it is gone, yes.”

Whilst the picture is far from rosy at Old Trafford, a clutch of players are away from the club getting vital experience. Here we look at those out on loan and see how they got on over the weekend.

James Garner

The United midfielder played the full 90 minutes as Nottingham Forest moved to within a point of clinching a Championship play-off spot. Forest edged a narrow contest against Peterborough United, running out 1-0 winners – a result that confirmed Posh’s relegation after just one season.

Garner has caught the eye in his second loan spell at the City Ground this term and against Peterborough he kept Steve Cooper’s side ticking over nicely.

James Garner is aiming for promotion to the Premier League in his second loan spell at Forest

The 21-year-old made three key passes but also did his defensive duties, with four tackles and a clearance showing a willingness and desire to get back and preserve a clean sheet. He’ll be hoping to impress on Tuesday when Forest go to already-promoted Fulham.

Ethan Laird

Laird has endured a strange time of it since swapping Swansea for Bournemouth in the second half of the season.

The loan move was supposed to be the catalyst for Laird’s performances to go up a notch at a team chasing automatic promotion. But he was brought into the starting line-up over Easter and has now started the last three games. Saturday saw Laird play the full 90 as the Cherries held leaders Fulham to a 1-1 draw. He touched the ball 76 times in the stalemate, contributing four tackles and was fouled four times by opposition players.

Ethan Laird is finally getting regular action with Bournemouth having been made to bide his time

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Scott Parker recently said he was happy with Laird’s attitude having been made to wait so long for his chance.

He said: “Why I’m pleased for him is because he had it pretty tough, to be honest with you. He’s come into the building, was injured, spent a long time out.

“He then had it tough in terms of trying to get into the team and even around the team. I was always in close dialogue with him, explaining to him, being very honest with him what he needed to do, what he needs to bring and how he needs to apply himself to get himself in the team. And he’s done every bit of it and he’s earned his right to be in the side. He’s waited for a moment.”

Di’Shon Bernard

Defender Bernard was in the Hull City team at the start of the season but Saturday again saw him remain on the bench as unused substitute in their convincing 3-0 win over Reading.

Nine of the last ten games have seen him unused in fact, with his only appearance in that period a nine-minute cameo as a sub in a win over Cardiff.

Ethan Galbraith

Midfielder Galbraith, like Bernard, has hardly played in the last few months and he too was an unused sub in Doncaster’s 2-0 win over Burton Albion. That win, combined with other results, means Rovers live to fight another day in their battle to stay in League One.

Galbraith could well be back in the team for the final game of the season, when Doncaster travel to Oxford.

Nathan Bishop

Nathan Bishop is eyeing up promotion from League Two with Mansfield

Goalkeeper Bishop kept a 13th clean sheet of the season as Mansfield won 2-0 at home to Crawley.

The result moved Nigel Clough’s side up to sixth and they still retain slim hopes of sealing a League Two automatic promotion spot, with a game in hand still to play. Bishop did not face a single shot on target, on an extremely quiet afternoon for the 22-year-old.

Reece Devine

Defender Devine saw his temporary employers Walsall seal a derby victory over Port Vale. The Saddlers won 2-0 but it didn’t prove to be an extremely happy day for Devine, who was substituted at half-time after struggling to impose himself on the contest.

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