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Exclusive: Regan Poole talks leaving Newport, Man Utd spell & LVG

MK Dons defender Regan Poole has praised Manchester United for how the club treat young players, opening up to Tribal Football about his four years at Old Trafford.

It was a fairy-tale moment for Poole when, on transfer deadline day in 2015, the then 17-year-old left Newport County to join the biggest club in the world. He recalls those early days and how the club had a positive impact on his development.

"It was a bit of a whirlwind really, it was quite scary," Poole said of the move. "I found out the night before I was signing for them, and the next morning I was in the car on the way there. As a 17-year-old kid it was really nerve wracking. To go to the training ground for the first time, look at it, and think, 'I'll be here for the next four years' was mind blowing."

It could have been daunting to leave the family home at such a young age, but Poole found it easy thanks to how he was looked after by his new club.

"I moved to Manchester on my own and went to family accommodation. I settled in quite nicely, it was a smooth process. My family go to know the family I was moving in with, and that's credit to Man Utd. They made everything so easy, and it just shows what kind of football club it is.

"The club in general do so much for their players. Their player care is so good, they make everything go smoothly; it just shows how Man Utd work. The way you have to conduct yourself at training every day - just overall as a person they improve you."

It was a slow beginning for Poole, who had to wait six months before he was eligible to play due to difficulties getting international clearance. However, the MK Dons player believes that it might have helped him to spend more time in training.

"It was so frustrating, so having been on the bench so long it was great to finally get a chance," Poole said, recalling his debut against Midtjylland in February. "But it did give me time to settle in, so it helped me in a sense."

In fact, Poole is unusual in that he believes spending time with the Man Utd Under-23s was more beneficial to him than training with the first team.

"You're working with best coaches in the world, so it's a given you improve as a player, and technically when I joined I became a much better player. They improved me massively.

"In the first team, training is leading up to the next game, whereas when you go into under-23s they're improving you as a player. They do a lot of technical drills with the ball at your feet. They improved me massively with the small little drills that we'd do."

Poole made 15 league appearances for Newport as a 17-year-old, and so he missed some of that detailed work others might get at the same age.

"I joined coming from the first team in Newport, and I realised from going there how different it is training with the Under-23s to improve you as a player."

Then again, being around the first team was also a huge benefit to Poole's development, and another aspect of Man Utd he praised was the work of then-manager Louis van Gaal.

"He was really good to the young lads and he's done that throughout his career," he said. "He was a great coach, a great coach. He was good to be around, laughing and joking in training, so I really enjoyed working with him and he improved me a lot as well."

Alex Keble
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Alex Keble

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