Manchester United defender Paddy McNair admits it's been a "crazy couple of months" for him on a personal level at Old Trafford, but says he is relishing the prospect of playing in Louis van Gaal's first-team after being afforded an opportunity to impress.
The 19-year-old made his senior debut against West Ham United back in September, and has since staked his claim for regular inclusion in the side following a series of impressive performances.
Van Gaal has been plagued by injury problems - particularly at the back this term - and has not been afraid to promote from within, regularly calling on up-and-coming youngsters from the Red Devils' academy.
Tyler Blackett was the first youth team product to profit from the Dutch coach's philosophy, and now McNair is enjoying his chance to show what he can do.
The Northern Ireland international was selected in the starting XI to play alongside summer signing Daley Blind at the heart of defence for Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday; reward for another positive showing in last weekend's derby defeat against local rivals Manchester City.
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"It’s been a crazy couple of months," McNair is quoted as saying by the Daily Express. "I was playing with the Under-21s two months ago, then all of a sudden I’m playing in front of 75,000 people at Old Trafford.
"It has happened so fast. Last year I think I played 11 games for the U21s so hopefully I’ll be close to 11 for the first team by the end of the season.
"When I was growing up, I always wanted to play for Manchester United, and now I am playing in Manchester derbies, so it’s been good and I’ve loved every minute of it."
It's certainly marked a rapid rise to stardom for a player that only joined the Red Devils' academy in the summer of 2013, and was relatively unknown to the majority of supporters prior to Van Gaal's appointment.
But, after grabbing his opportunity with both hands McNair looks likely to feature more regularly in 2014/15, and is set to be rewarded for his fine form with a new contract that will take his weekly wage to around £20,000-a-week; ten times the amount he currently earns.
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