Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has compared Manchester United academy midfielder Ethan Galbraith to Barcelona legends Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Galbraith has just one senior appearance for United so far, after playing against Astana in last season’s Europa League. The 19-year-old also has one senior cap for Northern Ireland.
He could add to that during the upcoming international break. Baraclough has called him up to the Northern Ireland squad for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia.
The manager clearly believes the United youngster has potential, and compared him to two of the best midfielders of the 21st Century when explaining his decision to call him up.
“Ethan, over the last six months, we’ve seen a maturity in his play and the way he goes about his work day to day,” Baraclough said.
“He’s excelled with the Under-21s and he’s a different type of player to anyone we’ve got in the senior squad.
“Hopefully it’s the start of a long career for him. Hopefully he relishes his time from the start in this squad, rather than coming in from the Under-21 squad. He has earned his right with the way he has gone about his play for the last six months.
“Not to put too much pressure on his shoulders, but he’s our little Iniesta or Xavi, someone who can get on the ball and manipulate the ball and find positive passes. Over the coming years, he will give us a different flavour to the squad.
“He’s been brought in a couple of times and made his debut against Luxembourg. For him to be picked outright, it’s a big moment for him, but he’s ready for it.”
Galbraith growing in confidence
Last month, Galbraith signed a new contract at Manchester United, to commit his future there until 2023. There is the option for a further year.
The teenager has been training with the senior squad at Carrington recently, and has been in good form for the Under-23s, recently scoring against Everton.
Baracalough added that Galbraith is full of self-esteem at the moment, and that he can be an example to others.
“He’s gone and signed a new deal with Man Utd and you can see there’s a real self-confidence about him,” he said. “It’s great someone like that can be a shining light for the young players, knowing there are chances for them if they perform at their clubs.”