Ryan Tunnicliffe hoping to use his experience of playing alongside Paul Pogba to stop the World Cup winner

The Luton Town midfielder was a key team-mate of Pogba’s during their successful youth careers at Manchester United

Martin Cranie and Ryan Tunnicliffe of Luton Town celebrate victory on the final whistle during Carabao Cup Second Round match between Reading FC and Luton Town at Madejski Stadium on September 15, 2020 in Reading, England. 
Luton Town defeated Reading in the second round of EFL Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Luton Town midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe is hoping to use his experience of playing alongside Paul Pogba to his advantage as he looks to stop the World Cup winner at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.

Tunnicliffe was a key team-mate of Pogba’s during their successful youth careers at Manchester United, with the two players forming a strong relationship in midfield.

Pogba has credited Tunnicliffe with being one the players who helped him settle at United after he joined the club as a 16-year-old, and both midfielders were part of the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2011.

“When he first came in he was a good lad,” said Tunnicliffe. “He was loud but I had been there quite a while so I did anything I could have to help him.

“You see how good a player he is when you try to get around him. He was my midfield partner so we tried bonding a relationship off the field.

“If he thinks I helped him then I was more than happy because he has gone on to do great things. If I can take a slight bit of credit for that then I’m happy.”

Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison celebrate with the FA Youth Cup trophy Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Tunnicliffe played under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the club’s reserve side and the 27-year-old will be hoping the United manager selects his old friend in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup meeting.

“I think everyone can see that he’s world-class,” Tunnicliffe said of Pogba. “I played alongside him quite a few times. It was a while back so to play against him will be quite fun for me, and I’m sure he’d say the same as well.

“I’ve studied up on players that I’ve come up against, so I’ve seen him in training. But he can probably say the same thing about me.

“I’m not the player I was when I was 17 and I don’t think he is. He’s obviously improved a lot and got bigger, stronger, so I have an idea of the things he can do, but it’s up to me to stop it and see if I can stop it.”

Luton have won their first four matches of this season in all competitions and appear to be building real momentum under the management of Nathan Jones, who returned to the club from Stoke City in May.

They are one of only three sides to have won two games out of two in the Championship this season and Jones said he has improved as a manager since his difficult spell with Stoke. Jones was sacked by Stoke in November 2019, just nine months after leaving Luton.

“I believe I am a better manager than when I left here because I learnt a lot from my previous job,” said Jones.

“There were a lot of different things that I had to solve or go through that I hadn't faced before, but as a manager that is a regular occurrence. I am a better manager for it and that is what you have to take out of it.”