Manchester United have announced the club’s eighth departure and seventh loan of a busy January transfer window. Rhys Bennett has joined Stockport County on loan for the remainder of the season, chopping Erik ten Hag’s emergency centre-back options further amid relentless injury issues.
The 20-year-old has made the short trip to League Two leaders Stockport County, who are vying for two promotions in three seasons after returning to the Football League in 2022.
Dave Challinor’s side have set the pace in the fourth tier this term, leading Wrexham by two points at the league summit after 27 games.
Bennett is yet to make his senior debut for United but has been called upon by Ten Hag in recent weeks during a frustrating injury crisis.
Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans have all missed at least one game over the past month.
It has led to Ten Hag calling on 19-year-old Willy Kambwala, handing him his first start in the Premier League defeat against West Ham United and two more appearances.
Bennett featured on the bench at West Ham before Christmas and in the FA Cup third-round clash with Wigan Athletic in the New Year.
But he is no longer an option after securing the first loan switch of his career to gain a maiden taste of senior football in League Two.
Old Trafford figures rate Bennett highly. He captained United’s 2022 FA Youth Cup-winning side, scoring the opening goal of the final against Nottingham Forest.
The United U21 starlet is the eighth exit of the club’s exodus this winter and the seventh player to leave on loan.
Fellow youth player Mateo Mejia left permanently earlier this week, sealing a switch to La Liga outfit and European regulars Sevilla.
But United have pressed down on the accelerator for loan moves, many of which have a buy option included at the end of the season.
Donny van de Beek completed a move to Eintracht Frankfurt on New Year’s Day with a £12million option to buy.
Jadon Sancho returned to Borussia Dortmund to end his exile at Carrington but will re-join Erik ten Hag’s squad next summer.
Alvaro Fernandez ended his loan at Granada to join Benfica until the end of the campaign and will trigger an obligation to buy for £5m if he plays a certain number of games.
Hannibal Mejbri has also left, joining Mejia at Sevilla, and could join permanently in the summer if his £17m clause is triggered.
Joe Hugill and Max Oyedele’s loan exits came before Bennett’s, landing at Burton Albion and Forest Green Rovers, respectively.