This question may apply to other leagues in other places, but recently I saw an article about Radamel Falcao playing for the Manchester United U-21 team and Rafael doing the same thing. Both players are over 21 and make semi-regular starts for the Manchester United senior squad. How are they also allowed to play for the U-21 reserve team when they're obviously over-age?

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    It might be worth knowing that these games are often used for players recovering from an injury to regain match fitness and test how they/their injury react(s) to a game.
    – Don_Biglia
    Mar 12, 2015 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


Because the rules say that they can:

Clubs are only allowed to field three outfield players over the age of 21, plus the goalkeeper is also permitted to be over 21.

  • Is it not also the case that the age limit applies at a date early into or prior to the competition. Players under 21 at that time are eligible. however the matches may continue well after the date in question when some of them are 21 or even 22.
    – WS2
    Oct 22, 2023 at 15:48

The rules allow for up to three overage outfield players as well as the goalkeeper to be over the age of 21. Usually these players are struggling players whom the manager wants to get playing time or they are players coming back from injury and the manager wants to know if they are game ready.

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