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Saturday 17 May 2014

Barclays U21s: United's Lawrence savours 'unbelievable' season

Manchester United striker looks back on campaign that included full BPL debut at Old Trafford

  • Tom Lawrence put Man Utd in front before losing in Barclays U21 Premier League final

  • The 20-year-old made his full Barclays Premier League debut against Hull on 6 May

  • The Welsh forward was replaced by United legend and fellow countryman Ryan Giggs

Although Manchester United's Tom Lawrence was disappointed to lose in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League play-off final against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Wednesday, the 20-year-old savoured an "unbelievable season" that included a full Barclays Premier League debut the week before at the same ground.

"It's been an unbelievable season,  making my debut the other week. Hopefully I can kick on next year"
Tom Lawrence

After playing a key role in helping United  win the Barclays Under-21 Premier League last season, Lawrence spent this campaign largely on loan, first at Carlisle United, then Yeovil Town. At Carlisle, in League One, he struck three goals in his first seven matches, before moving to Yeovil, of the Championship, in February.

Unable to prevent Yeovil from relegation, Lawrence got valuable game time, appearing in 19 matches. Upon returning to Old Trafford the Welshman helped the Under-21s beat Liverpool in the semi-final at Anfield. Four days later, Lawrence partnered Under-21 team-mate James Wilson up front as interim first-team manager Ryan Giggs gave the pair their senior debuts against Hull City in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford.

Both impressed, with Wilson netting twice in a 3-1 win, before they stepped out on to Old Trafford pitch again for the Under-21 final on Wednesday. That may have ended in disappointment, but for Lawrence, the past fortnight had capped off a dream 12 months.

"It’s been an unbelievable season for me - making my debut the other week," Lawrence told premierleague.com. "It's just been a great season for me and hopefully I can kick on next year as well."

After a first taste of the Barclays Premier League the Welshman, who has played for his country at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 level, is determined to get further first-team opportunities.

"If I didn't believe, I wouldn't be here, but hopefully I can kick on next year and get a few more appearances under my belt," he said.

Influence of United legends

Lawrence cited the influence of Giggs, as well as former United stars Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville, in the coaching set-up, as being a telling factor in his graduation.

"They have been here before, been through the ranks, won League titles and Champions Leagues," he said. "So you just take the advice that they give you on board and it's the best advice as well."

In the Barclays Under-21 Premier League final, Lawrence opened the scoring with a curling strike, after a clever lay-off by Wilson, before goals by Charly Musonda and Lewis Baker won the contest for the visitors.

"They had most of the possession but we had chances to win the game," said Lawrence. "We just came up short in the end. I would have liked us to cause more of an attacking threat at times but it was a good goal - I'm just disappointed we didn't win in the end."

The match was played in front of over 13,000 supporters, as well being broadcast live in on Sky Sports, and the forward relished the opportunity to play on the big stage with silverware at stake.

"That's what you want to do," he said. "You want to play in big stadiums and this is one of the biggest, so it's always good and it brings the best out of people as well."

BU21PL final: Man Utd 1-2 Chelsea photo gallery

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