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James Wilson spearheads talented group that could prove vital to Manchester United

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The summer arrivals of Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay for Manchester United indicated that Louis van Gaal is keen on injecting youth into the team whilst maintaining a degree of experience with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger also arriving at the club.

With the Red Devils now back in the Champions League, Van Gaal has food for thought when it comes to team selection, which in turn should allow his players valuable game time due to the sheer amount of games on offer throughout the season.

And while experience is ultimately key in the bigger competitions, it could be the way in which the Dutchman utilises the club's academy graduates that could prove pivotal in their quest for trophies - to provide greater strength in depth. Here's who he must incorporate:

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Paddy McNair

Van Gaal gave McNair his first-team debut last season in a 2-1 win against West Ham. His calmness and composure in defence made him an instant favourite amongst the fans, let alone his confidence in venturing forward to attack the ball.

His development ultimately meant for Jonny Evans' sale with Van Gaal - his ever keen eye for young talent on show - able to see the potential in McNair as a first-choice defender. He signed a new contract in February this year that will keep him at the club until 2017.

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Sam Johnstone

A strong pre-season in America, combined with his height and upper-body strength, meant for solid cover for David de Gea and Sergio Romero in the 22-year-old Johnstone.

The Englishman has spent four years on loan at different clubs and has shown - particularly in his 22 appearances for Preston North End last season - that he has a promising future ahead of him. Despite this, he is yet to make a competitive appearance for the Red Devils, but may find opportunities throughout the season, most likely against Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup later this month.

Andreas Pereira

Pereira signed for United in 2011 from PSV Eindhoven, with the 19-year-old Brazilian able to play on the left wing or as a striker.

He made his senior team debut against MK Dons last season and came on as a substitute in the 3-0 win against Tottenham and could prove sufficient back up should Van Gaal ever come calling.

Jesse Lingard

This year will be make or break for Lingard. At 22-years-old, he is entering a pivotal stage in his career that could determine his success as a footballer, placing all-the-more importance on taking this season by the scruff of the neck given Van Gaal's tendency to sell players who can no longer contribute.

Since signing in 2012, Lingard has enjoyed four successful loan spells at Leicester City, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove and Derby County, scoring 11 goals in 47 appearances.

Naturally an attacking midfielder, the Under-21 England international is versatile and can play on either wing or as striker, and with Adnan Januzaj recently going on loan to Borussia Dortmund, let alone United's already misfiring attack, opportunities could be of the plenty for Lingard.

Guillermo Varela

The 22-year old Uruguayan is a right-back and was the first signing under David Moyes in 2013, signing a five year deal from home-town club Penarol.

His speed on the right and inclining to burst forward is reminiscent of what the recently-departed Rafael used to do, evident from the 33 appearances he made for Real Madrid's B team when sent on loan after signing.

And while Zinedine Zidane himself had expressed his admiration for the player and even hinted at a permanent move to Los Blancos, Van Gaal quickly brought him back to Old Trafford, undoubtedly aware of the talent that he had on his hands.

James Wilson

19-year-old James Wilson started his career with the Red Devils in 2011, making his senior debut for the club in 2014 against Hull where he scored two goals in a 3-1 win.

The youngster has since made 18 appearances for the club, scoring four goals, and while he might not have featured this season, the departure of Javier Hernandez to Bayer Leverkusen could mean for greater opportunity to prove himself.

United boast a long-standing tradition of nurturing youth from the time of the Busby Babes through to Fergie's Fledglings, and while it's a tall order for Van Gaal to emulate these successes, the Dutchman is renowned for his philosophies regarding youth and could be the perfect manager to bring out the best in their upcoming talent.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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