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From Manchester United Reserve Player of the Year to New York Red Bulls

Former Manchester United trainee Richard Eckersley will link up with Thierry Henry in New York.

Touted as a potential successor for Gary Neville, once highly rated right-back Richard Eckersley finds himself 3,300 miles away from Manchester.

The full-back once came on as a substitute for the England veteran in one of his two appearances for United, and was on the bench for their 2009 League Cup Final win.

Named the United Reserve Player of the Year in 2008, it was just months after that cup final win at Wembley that he was allowed to leave as his contract expired, joining Burnley.

Eckersley had been usurped in the pecking order behind Gary Neville by the exciting Rafael da Silva, and deemed surplus to requirements.

His time at Burnley was a disappointment in that he was loaned out further down the Football League and it landed up with him departing English football altogether

He signed on loan and then permanently with MLS side FC Toronto, where he had begun to get a run of playing regularly for the first time in his career.

On deadline day he was on the move again, signing with New York Red Bulls, where he will play alongside former Premier League heroes Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

It was not a switch welcomed by Toronto, but one they needed to make considering he was the highest paid player in the side, and they needed to make cuts for the incoming signings of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley.

Canadian website CBC noted: "The red-haired Brit was a fan favourite for his marauding runs and combative style."

While manager Ryan Nelsen, formerly of Blackburn Rovers, was also disappointed to having to lose Eckersley: "

"We've been really honest with Richard, he's given great service to the club. He's done really well and it's not his fault that a contract was given that was probably not appropriate."

Still only 24, the Salford born defender has a exciting chance to kick on in his career now, and start proving why he was once so highly rated at United. New York may be just the stage to do it.

images: © andybrannan

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