Paul McShane finally makes Man Utd debut for under-21s despite being aged 35

Ageing defender Paul McShane finally made his Manchester United debut on Wednesday evening when the Red Devils under-21 side played Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The 35-year-old was eligible to play as EFL Trophy rules dictate under-21 sides are allowed to name two overage players in their squads.

United lost 2-1 to Sunderland, who themselves named a much-changed side from their previous match in League One to Portsmouth.

But for Paul McShane, the night will live long in the memory as the veteran centre-back was able to finally make his Man Utd debut.

The Republic of Ireland international was unable to make a full debut for the Red Devils despite his four-year stint at Old Trafford.

After failing to make a single first-team appearance, McShane left for West Brom in the summer of 2006 in a deal that saw Tomasz Kuszczak head to United in exchange.

Spells at Sunderland, Hull and Reading followed before dropping down into League One to join Rochdale at the start of the 2019/20 season.

After two seasons in the third tier of English football, McShane must have thought that his chances of playing at the Theatre of Dreams had passed him by – but how wrong he was.

Should the EFL Trophy allow under-21 sides? Let us know in the comments section.

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The 35-year-old returned to his former club as a player-coach, with the intention of being used as an overage player in under-21 and under-23s matches.

Speaking to Goal, McShane explained his new role at Man Utd: "I’m not here to play, I’m not here to get in the first team, so it’s not an issue that I don’t play certain games.

“I’m here for the coaching side. The beauty of it is that I can still play, so I can get a different perspective on things in training sessions and in games, and I can help lads when we’re in the thick of the action.”

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