Manchester United defender Tyler Blackett has revealed that Louis van Gaal was always planning to give young players their chance to shine this season, regardless of an injury crisis at Old Trafford that shows no sign of slowing down.
Van Gaal took a gamble and handed Blackett his senior United bow in United's Premier League opener against Swansea City on August 16 and that bold move was immediately put under scrutiny, with the Red Devils slipping to a 2-1 defeat.
Last month's capitulation at Leicester City saw United's defensive deficiencies thrown under the spotlight yet again, a match which saw Blackett receive a red card and end an ever-present run in the starting XI this season.
Van Gaal determined to give youth a chance
The 20-year-old has still enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence regardless over the last two months, but in an interview with United Review the starlet shared that Van Gaal offered academy standouts assurances they had a path to the first team before the season even got going.
Blackett shared: "From day one, the manager said that he was going to give young players a chance and he has kept his word, which is pleasing for us all to see.
"I am just pleased that he has recognised me and the other young players who can help the team. He is very encouraging and pushes you to do well."
McNair and Wilson also beneficiaries of long-term plan
Barcelona and Ajax fans will be able to wax lyrical about the platform Van Gaal has provided unheralded teenagers the chance to shine in previous high-profile roles, but a club-record £150m spend by United in the summer transfer window made a repeat at the Theatre of Dreams look distinctly unlikely.
Thankfully for United's academy staff Van Gaal wants to make room for their brightest pupils despite splashing out for Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, which means Blackett has been joined in the first-team by both Paddy McNair and James Wilson in the Premier League already this season.
McNair's inclusion has been a particularly pleasant surprise, a Northern Irish youngster who didn't even have a Wikipedia page dedicated to his career before getting a baptism of fire against West Ham United 10 days ago.
With Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones all still sidelined it looks like Tom Thorpe could be the next prospect to get a chance in the same position, with McNair cruelly ruled out for three weeks thanks to a hamstring injury.
Across the board Van Gaal has pledged that he will continue to bed in less familiar names alongside his top stars, a stance that Blackett in particular believes is a huge positive for the Red Devils moving forward.