Coach hails player set to join Manchester United as a top-class defensive midfielder

Former Brighton U18 coach Mark Beard is convinced by the potential of imminent Manchester United signing Toby Collyer.

The Brighton wonderkid looks set to join United this summer, with the likes of Chelsea and West Ham missing out on his signature. The 18-year-old is out of contract with the Seagulls at the end of the season and has already trained with United ahead of his move to Old Trafford.

“I was working with the under-15s and under-16s and he was in the under-12s or 13s. I got to coach him once a week then. He rose through the ages and I went up to the under-18s,” Beard told Sussex Live.

“Even when he was an under-15 he trained with us [the under-18s] a lot. Even though he didn’t play a great deal at under-16 he still trained. You could see he was going to be a top-class player.

“He is a pleasure to coach. He is so low maintenance, what I mean by that is you don’t know he is there. He gets on with his job. He regularly put in displays of 8/10 at the least. He had the best running stats, runs 13 kilometres a game, breaks things up. He is so unassuming, he gets on with his job.

“You want 11 of these type of players in the team. You know what you’re going to get in training, he works hard, he wants to improve, he’s intelligent. He’s a good all-round kid.”

Describing what United will be getting, Beard added: “He is more of a defensive midfielder but we tried to get a bit more out of him. In training, he would do a one vs one exercise and he could do it so easily so we just wanted him to add that to his game.

“So rather than just sideways passing or good quality forward passing, just have a little dribble because he was very good at travelling with the ball as well. We tried getting that into him.”

He added: “The two things I wanted to work with him on were his dribbling, driving out and having confidence on the ball, and the second was in 50/50 tackles. He wouldn’t pull out of it but the other player might want it more.

“As good as he is defensively, he still needs to work on the timing and the strength of his tackling to really go to another level.”