Manchester United called up 16-year-old midfielder Charlie Wellens to train with the senior squad ahead of this week’s Europa League clash with Astana at Old Trafford.
A number of academy graduates are part of the group, but the likes of Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and James Garner are all older have made played for the first-team before – several or all could even feature against Astana.
Wellens, given his age, is much more of a surprise.
Here’s a look at four things to know about a name you might be hearing a lot more of over the coming months and years…
His Dad Played for United
Charlie is the son of former United midfielder Richie Wellens, who emerged from the youth team in the late 1990s and made his debut as a substitute during a League Cup tie against Aston Villa in October 1999 – it was his sole appearances for the club.
Wellens Sr. found his feet lower down the league ladder when he left Old Trafford shortly afterwards, joining Blackpool and playing over 200 games for them. Spells at Oldham and Doncaster followed, before being a regular for Leicester in the Championship.
Richie, now 39 years of age, retired in 2017 after 700 career appearances. He has already made the switch to coaching and is currently manager at Swindon Town in League Two.
Charlie Wellens out there. Richie’s son. He is 16. pic.twitter.com/REXSzy0bF2— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) September 18, 2019
He Was Born in 2002
As if simply knowing that he is 16 years of age and barely out of school won’t make you feel old, Wellens was born since the 2002 World Cup, in December of that year to be precise.
Current United captain Ashley Young made his professional debut for Watford before Wellens celebrated his first birthday, and now they are training together.
He Is Noted for His Passing
The very first line of Wellens’ biography on United’s official website explains that he is a ‘midfielder with a good range of passing’. It paints a very promising picture of a talented individual with plenty of technical ability.
His Rise Has Been Rapid
Wellens was playing Under-16s football in United’s academy just last season and made the step up to Under-18 level as a first-year scholar over the summer.
He has already impressed in the older age group, starting all five games in the Under-18 Premier League this season and scoring three goals from midfield.
Although it remains to be seen how soon Wellens might actually be involved in a senior matchday squad, a quick rise through the ranks is not uncommon if a player has the talent to merit it. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are both recent examples of youngsters who played for more than one junior age group and also the first-team in the same season.