Manchester United teenager Paddy McNair has earned praise from his manager and teammates after producing a composed display on his debut for the club during the narrow victory over West Ham on Saturday.
Louis van Gaal was forced into playing McNair at centre-back alongside summer acquisition Marcos Rojo after four first-team defenders were declared unavailable for the encounter with West Ham, and the 19-year-old impressed.
Manchester United had moved into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, but were pegged back by a Diafra Sakho header before the captain was sent off for a kick on Stewart Downing.
The home side were able to hold on as the Irons pressed forward for a late leveller, and it took a vital intervention from McNair at the back post to prevent Sam Allardyce’s team leaving Old Trafford with a point.
"He played very well," Van Gaal told MUTV when asked about McNair. "I could have imagined a performance like this before the match because he’s a very good player.
“Mostly, players like this have good debuts. I’m very pleased for him that we won, because he played very well and his goal-saving header in the second half was fantastic. He was also very good with the ball at his feet."
McNair also impressed his defensive colleague Rafael, who described the young defender as “one to watch” and believes he will have a “big future” with Manchester United after making this unexpected senior bow.
Van Gaal will be able to welcome back Tyler Blackett from suspension for their next game with Everton while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling could return from injury, but the manager will now know that he can rely on McNair if called upon again.