Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has hailed young teammate Paddy McNair, who made his senior debut for the Red Devils in the 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday.
McNair was handed a surprise start by Louis van Gaal after United were struck with a defensive injury crisis on the eve of the fixture at Old Trafford.
McNair shines on debut
Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans were all sidelined through injury, while Tyler Blackett was suspended after picking up a red card in the 5-3 victory over Leicester City.
But despite his inexperience, Northern Ireland Under-21 international McNair was one of United's standout performers against the Hammers, and performed admirably under pressure.
His display not only impressed the United faithful, but also his teammates.
"It was unforgettable for Paddy McNair," Mata wrote on his blog. "Making a debut with Manchester United in Old Trafford being just 19 is amazing, and I am sure he will always remember this day.
"It’s good for the young players to see that they can fit in the first team. It has always happened in this club and it’s a good tradition to keep. In my opinion, Paddy has a bright future ahead."
Mata left on bench again
Mata was left on the bench for the second consecutive match by Van Gaal, who once again opted to play Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie together with captain Wayne Rooney in the number ten position.
Rooney and Van Persie both scored, while Falcao grabbed an assist - justifying Van Gaal's selection - but Mata is now expected to feature prominently over the next few weeks with Rooney suspended until November.
The England international will miss United's next three Premier League fixtures against Everton, West Brom and Chelsea after receiving a straight red card for his professional foul on Stewart Downing.
Mata set to step in for Rooney
Subsequently, Mata should return to the Red Devils' starting line-up, in his favoured number ten role, starting on Sunday lunchtime against the Toffees.
The Spain international has scored eight Premier League goals in his last 11 appearances but, despite his fine recent record, has been tipped to leave Old Trafford when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Whether Van Gaal allows Mata, who arrived at United from Chelsea in a deal worth £37.1 million at the start of the year and currently earns £140,000-a-week, to move elsewhere could depend on how he performs in Rooney's absence.
However, Van Gaal has made it clear that Rooney, when fit, will always play.
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