Nicky Butt, the head of Manchester United’s academy, has introduced some unusual methods to help the club’s youngsters avoid injury.
Former United midfielder Butt has invited circus performers and free runners to speak to the players after comparing their backgrounds unfavourably to his.
He told The Times: “I see players in our academy and they can’t move. Our lads don’t know how to fall, roll and you should see the amount of injuries we get from popped shoulders or their arms.
“I probably fell out of a tree 15 times and never hurt myself. I don’t think my son has ever climbed a tree. Body mechanics lose so much when you’re not climbing trees, not playing basketball, cricket and rugby.
“This might sound bizarre but we’ve had a guy come in from the circus, telling the kids how to do spinning plates, jumping through hoops, circus tricks to get their biomechanics working.
“We had a free runner, the ‘parkour’ lads who jump over buildings, set up a course.”
Butt also backed striker Marcus Rashford to maintain his astonishing development after his hat-trick for England Under-21s in midweek.
Rashford came off the bench to score an injury-time winner in United’s 1-0 success at Hull City before the international break and Butt believes Jose Mourinho will continue to give him first-team opportunities.
He added: “You couldn’t pick a better player to be at this club or any big club. Marcus will get first team opportunities because he’s that good. If he keeps keeps doing what he’s doing with his pace and directness, you can’t hold him back .
“If you get a player like Marcus, and he does what he did last year this year, he’s a £50million player straight away. It’s an investment.”