Manchester United starlet Oliver Rathbone showed clear signs of progression with a match-winning hat-trick for the club's Under 18s on Saturday.
The 18-year-old midfielder celebrated his birthday on Friday in style a day later, notching a treble in the 4-1 away win over Blackburn Rovers at Brockhall.
He opened the scoring from distance on the strike of half-time, with a long-range effort that was fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Andrew Fisher. He'd made a fine save from the same player earlier, but let this effort trickle into the net.
Rovers equalised through substitute Lewis Mansell, who pulled the hosts level just after the hour. However, three quick goals made it a comfortable win for the Red Devils in the end.
Rathbone added both his own and his side's second almost instantly from the reply, with the teenager bundling home at the near post after a corner wasn't cleared.
And, the game was practically over minutes later when Ruairi Croskery notched for Manchester United from another corner.
There was still time for young Rathbone to add a gloss to the scoreline and take the match ball back to Old Trafford, with his next goal the third in just six frantic minutes.
Whilst it isn't all about results at U18 level, it will be very encouraging for Manchester United that a young player is showing such signs of progression just a year after joining the club as an U17 Academy student.
Louis van Gaal's first team might still be some way off for Rathbone, but he's making steps in the right direction and if such performances and goals continue, then excitement will continue to grow.
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