Fletcher is hoping to follow in Rashford's footsteps
Ashley Fletcher is keen to test the Reds new manager Jose Mourinho’s promise to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on maintaining the club's tradition to develop their youth players. The 20-year-old striker might have played with Antony Martial suffering an injury during the warm-up for United’s Europa League tie against Midtjylland in Feb but Fletcher had already been loaned to Barnsley in Jan and subsequently gazumped in Old Trafford pecking order by Marcus Rashford, with the rest being history as the 18-year-old seized his chances to score during his United debut in Europa and Premier League as well as for England. However, Fletcher has proven what he can do at South Yorkshire club by scoring against Oxford United in Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final at the Wembley and again after only just 88 secs against Millwall, his 9th goal for the Tykes to help them secured promotion to Championship.
Even though Barnsley would wish for United to let Fletcher continues his development with them in the 2nd tier, the youngster is hoping to leave an impression in United’s 1st team squad while also dreaming on partnering Rashford that could save the club millions of pounds in the transfer market. Fletcher said: “People might see us together as young players at United but what Rashford has done is unbelievable, to score for the 1st team and England. He deserves every bit of attention which he is getting but I hope to challenge him for a spot if I am back there at United. We had played together at most age group; U16s, U18s and U21s but to play together in 1st team one day would be a huge achievement. If Mourinho watched that play-off final, I hope he will have something to smile about as some youngsters might do a job for him but United is a huge club and have to spend big money to compete for league title.”
“It is strange to think what might have actually happened if I stayed at United and not out on loan when you see what took place for Rashford as it could have been me but football is funny, opportunities will crop up at any time. Yet, the main thing is that I am so proud of what I have done since I came to Barnsley and by scoring at Wembley in big match to help the team win a Cup or get promoted is the sort you dream of as a young boy which I have luckily done it twice in a few weeks at age of just 20. Coming to Barnsley has been a great move for me and staying would be an option if United did send me on loan again because I have loved every min. I heard that the Barnsley chairman might be calling my club and that would be fine with me although my aim is to get into United's 1st team squad and I would love to do that next season. If not, I can carry on my development in the Championship and score goals.”
Barnsley chairman Maurice Watkins who was also formerly a director at United, would love Fletcher to return and help spearhead an assault on the Championship. He said: “The loan system is changing and if the Premier League clubs loan out their young talent, they will want them to play inorder to develop and I believe Fletcher has done so. It would be fantastic to have him with us in the Championship but we will have to open up our discussions and see where we get to. I do know all those people at United from my previous associations there, it could help!”