United youngster set to star at Sevens
Rising Manchester United star Sylvain Ebanks-Blake is set to make an explosive debut in the Philips Lighting International Sevens which kicks off this evening.
The speedy, bustling striker has been described by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as 'a player to watch for the future' and has already made three appearances and scored one goal for the senior team last season.
The 20-year-old Ebanks-Blake (pictured) made his debut for United as a second-half substitute at Crewe in the League Cup third round in October 2004.
He suffered a major setback in February 2005, however, when he broke his fibula in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, but has since made a successful return to form, scoring a 45-minute hat-trick in a specially arranged friendly against Curzon Ashton last year.
'Young Blake, even though he only played for 10 minutes, showed enough to tell us that he is a player with some promise,' Ferguson said.
Now, the young striker is raring to go in the popular sevens tournament. 'I've heard it's a very good tournament. The best team will win the sevens trophy and I believe United are the best team,' said Ebanks-Blake.
United will also field newcomers Daniel Simpson and Lee Martin, who has also made a first-team appearance this season. But the Red Devils are without 20-year-old defender Phil Bardsley, who opted to stay home. Bardsley was here last year for United's 2-0 friendly win over Hong Kong.
United, who have never won the tournament but were runners-up to Aston Villa in the main competition in 2004, have been drawn in group D against local side Xiangxue Sun Hei, South African league champions Kaizer Chiefs - who replaced Arsenal - and the Chairman's Select. United begin their campaign against Sun Hei.
Meanwhile, J-League side Urawa Red Diamonds will be out to retain their title in the main competition, but they will be without Argentine Sergio Escudero.
The 18-year-old Escudero, who was such an inspiration in Urawa's pulsating 3-0 victory last year against PSV Eindhoven of Holland, was unable to make the trip after being called up to play in the Urawa's senior team.