Manchester United academy director Brian McClair has praised the way in which Paddy McNair has reacted to being thrown into first-team action, and believes the youngster is set for a bright future at Old Trafford.
A spare of injuries last month forced manager Louis van Gaal to hand the 19-year-old his senior debut at centre-back for the 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham United, before retaining his place in the lineup for the following weekend’s 2-1 victory over Everton.
A relative novice at the position, having recently converted from the midfield, McNair only made his first start for the Under-21s in February but, after earning impressive review in his first two top-flight outings, McClair is expecting big things ahead for the Northern Irishman.
‘Paddy is only a centre-half because we wanted to give him more time to mature physically, when he actually came as a midfield player,’ he told ESPN FC.
‘One of the things you can see is his technical ability on the ball and his passing, and that's because he's only been playing as a defender because we thought it was beneficial to his development.
‘It's great to see he's played a couple of games in that role but he's always been a midfield player. Modern footballers should have not only the technical ability but also the confidence to perform in various roles.’
|Total Clearance||Head Clearance||Duel Won||Duel Success||Interception||Ball Recovery||Total Pass||Pass Acc||Apps||Mins|
Along with McNair, fellow academy products Tyler Blackett, Jesse Lingard, Tom Thorpe, Reece James, Saidy Janko, Andreas Pereira, Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson have all been involved with the first-team in some capacity this season, and McClair believes Van Gaal deserves a great deal of credit for giving them all a chance to impress.
‘I think it's great for the players involved,’ he said. ‘They have acquitted themselves very well. It's a credit to them and the efforts they've put in over a number of years.
‘If you go back to the “Class of '92'”, lots of doors opened at that particular time because a lot of players left the club, and the manager, Sir Alex, was encouraged to let them have a go and they went on to great things, and to create fantastic history for themselves.’