‘Jimmy’s buzzing for it’ – Manchester United midfielder James Garner out to end Liverpool FC quadruple talk

When Liverpool secured their spot in this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-finals it signalled some time off for most of the Manchester United squad, but the responsibility for inflicting some misery on the Merseysiders on Sunday hasn’t completely deserted their ranks.

United should have been heading to Anfield for a Premier League fixture tomorrow, but that game has now been rearranged with Jurgen Klopp’s side in FA Cup quarter-final action instead. While most of the United squad are now putting their feet up, midfielder James Garner is preparing for perhaps the biggest game of his young career di lui so far.

Garner is enjoying an excellent season with Championship side Nottingham Forest and the 20-year-old midfielder, on loan from Old Trafford, has been outstanding in their run to the last eight of the FA Cup, which has included City Ground wins over Arsenal and Leicester City.

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The United academy graduate has caught the eye in Forest’s play-off push as well but his performances in front of the TV cameras in those games has hinted at an aptitude for the big occasions and for Old Trafford youngsters they don’t come much bigger than the chance to inflict a cup upset on Liverpool. It would be particularly sweet if a United player could end their quadruple hopes.

Since joining on loan midway through last season Garner has now clocked up 55 appearances for Forest, but his game has gone up to another level since the appointment of Steve Cooper in September of last year, a coach Garner knew well, having been Cooper’s England Under -17 captain.

He’s now a key part of the Forest midfield and will get the chance to impress the next United manager in pre-season, when he will return to the club knowing there are vacancies to be filled in the center of the pitch.

Garner’s Forest teammate Jack Colback knows what it takes to play in midfield in the Premier League, with 178 appearances to his name at that level, and he is convinced the United youngster is good enough to play in the top division.

“For me he’s got all the attributes needed,” Colback said of Garner’s ability to play in the Premier League.

“He’s very good on the ball, technically his passing range is excellent but he’s also got the other side of that, which is defensively I think he doesn’t get the credit, but he’s really good defensively, he covers a lot, gets a lot of tackles in and you need that.

“Like any player you’ve got to keep your head down, keep working, never think that you’ve done enough, but Jimmy will have as good a chance as anyone.”

Forest have been in fine form since Cooper’s arrival and, after a difficult few months at Watford at the start of last season, Garner is now getting the benefit from a Championship loan.

“So far he’s been excellent, over recent months he’s been a high-performing player and a constant selection for us. The loan for him at the moment is proving to be a really beneficial one, “Cooper said.

“It’s important now that stays the case for the run-in, so he can get to the end of the season and be a better player from before he came, that’s always the objective of the loan and when that’s the case everyone benefits.

“We’re very happy with him, we’re working strongly with him, he’s working very hard, he’s very much embracing being at a big club, his parent club is a big club, we’re a big club, he’s embracing being a big part of that.

“We treat loan players like they’re our own, we think that’s really important and at the moment we’re getting some good returns so we’ve got to continue to improve even more with him.”

Garner has been with United since he was eight and while he will be desperate to shine against Liverpool, he was also born in Birkenhead and will have plenty of friends who support Klopp’s side.

The way he’s impressed against Arsenal and Leicester City this season suggests a player who thrives in big games, something Colback noticed ahead of that third-round tie with the Gunners.

“Jimmy can’t wait for it, he’s buzzing for it, I think it was before the Arsenal game that he couldn’t stop talking about, we had a league game before and I said ‘you need to focus on the league game’ , but he was saying ‘we’ve got Arsenal’, “he said.

“Jimmy’s been great this season, he’s a confident lad, very talented and he can’t wait.

“We’ve not trained much with the amount of games we’ve played but he’ll be buzzing for it, I’m sure he’s got friends who support United and probably some who support Liverpool, he’s really looking forward to it and he ‘ll thrive on the challenge. Hopefully, for us he has a good game. “

Garner’s set-piece delivery has become a major weapon for Forest and that could be key given they’re unlikely to be given too many chances against Liverpool, but while this is another chance to remind his parent club of his own qualities, Cooper is confident the youngsters will treat it just like any other game.

“He wants to play well in every game he plays, that’s the type of character he is, he’s just been called up to England Under-21s again, it should never be underestimated how elite that squad is for young players,” he said.

“He’s treating every game with equal importance and so he should playing for this club.”

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