Manchester United have signed 35-year-old defender Paul McShane to play for and coach the club's Under-23s side.

The veteran centre-back recently left Rochdale, having obtained his coaching qualifications during his playing days - which are set to continue in an 'innovative' role.

McShane will both coach the team and take part in fixtures when 'deemed appropriate.'

The 33-times capped Republic of Ireland international's coaching will take place across the Under-15s to Under-23s teams.

He can play as one of three over-age players in matches, slots usually taken up by senior players who are seeking playing time.

It is not expected that McShane will be registered in any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's senior squad, but could prove to be the outfield version of Lee Grant in the club's Professional Development Phase.

On United's website, Head of Academy Nick Cox explained: "Across the Academy, we have always taken an innovative approach to ensure that we continue our proud tradition of producing world-class players capable of excelling in Manchester United's first-team.

"This new role was carefully considered and adds yet another level of support for our players in helping them to play at the highest level possible.

"We believe that Paul is the perfect candidate," Cox stated.

McShane faced United six times as a player and will now return to the academy which he graduated from
McShane faced United six times as a player and will now return to the academy which he graduated from

"He arrives as an extremely highly recommended coach but also clearly still has a lot left to give on the pitch.

"This unique combination is invaluable for our Under-23s team and will further drive the professional standards of the group."

McShane, part of the Red Devils side who won the 2003 FA Youth Cup, said: "I am extremely pleased to be rejoining a club that means so much to me.

"I have been working on my coaching badges for several years and the opportunity to work with young players, whilst also playing in certain games, is the perfect role."

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He added: "I have developed a great deal of knowledge over my career and I look forward to mentoring and supporting the next generation of Academy graduates by passing on all of my experience.

"It feels very special to be back to where I began my professional career and I can’t wait to get started in supporting these talented players to reach their immense potential."

The ex-Hull City and Reading man was relegated to League Two with Rochdale last season.

McShane never made a competitive appearance for the club but feature for the first-team on the 2004 pre-season tour of the United States.

That was before he went on to make 400 appearances in the Premier League and Football League, also representing play for Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Barnsley and Crystal Palace.

Solskjaer's tenure has seen an array of former players return to the club, including Darren Fletcher, who is now United's technical director.

The Irishman follows Jadon Sancho as the Red Devils' second signing on Friday, who officially completed his move from Borussia Dortmund on a five-year deal, plus the option of an extra.

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