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Manchester United have issued a defence of their decision to sign a nine-year-old Australian prospect.

Rhain Davis has been signed up by United after his grandfather sent the club a DVD of him in action and the family then moved to Cheshire from Brisbane.

United insist they only invited Rhain for a trial after being told the Davis family were moving to the UK - he has a British passport through his mother's side - and that they have acted completely in line with the rules governing young players.

The club said in a statement: "Manchester United signs up to 30 boys aged nine for the under-10s of its academy in line with the rules that govern Premier League academies.

"The club does not ordinarily discuss individuals within its academies and would not consider sanctioning media access to boys so young.

"But it is important to address some issues that have arisen. The boy in question is English and resident within the allowable travelling distance of the club, having resettled in the UK. The club has at all times conducted itself in accordance with academy rules.

"All academy students operate under the same conditions and the same discipline and application is expected of them.

"Manchester United is proud of its history of developing talented young players and invests considerable time and resources in trying to find the best young players of the future."

Rhain came to United's attention when his grandfather sent the club a DVD of him in action for Redlands United under-10s in Brisbane.
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