Gary Neville believes Paddy McNair could play in midfield

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Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville believes centre-back Paddy McNair proved he can play in midfield during the Under-21 side’s 2-1 win over Liverpool on Monday night.

McNair, 19, scored the winning goal - a controlled strike into the bottom corner off his right foot - and deservedly took the plaudits from Sky Sports’ lead football pundit after the final whistle.

Neville revealed that McNair originally arrived at Old Trafford as an attacking playmaker and feels the player still possesses the required quality to operate from a midfield role.

Neville: McNair could play in midfield

Commenting on the goal, Neville said: "That finish, a striker would have been proud of that.

"He was good in the first half, good on the ball in the second and actually when he went into midfield and played in the holding role, he showed he could play there too."

McNair arrived as a No. 10

Neville also believes that the fact United boss Louis van Gaal has chucked McNair into the deep end this season shows how talented the versatile teenage centre-back is.

"He’s a good footballer," the former England international continued. "Louis van Gaal has thrust him into the first team. He came to Man Utd as a No 10, he’s learning so much, and you expect so much of them when they go in the first team.

"He had a couple of unfortunate experiences, away at Southampton when he was substituted on Monday Night Football, but he’s come back from that and you can see tonight he looks a real good player."

Recovery from Southampton horror show

McNair was substituted after just 39 minutes of United’s 2-1 away win over Southampton in December following a dismal first-half performance, but was subbed on for the final minutes of the Red Devils’ 3-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford days later - a vote of confidence from his manager.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 international is still developing and, subsequently, hasn’t been used by Van Gaal since United’s 2-0 win over Yeovil Town in the FA Cup third round earlier this month.

But a composed performance - barring the opening ten minutes - against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in late December showed this is a player with the mental toughness to overcome the setbacks which most young footballers will experience early on in their careers.

Contract situation

It was reported by Goal in October that McNair was poised to sign a contract extension with the Red Devils. The defender is free to talk to European clubs with his current deal set to expire in the summer.

But the BBC reported earlier this month that, as things stand, McNair and his Manchester United teammate Tyler Blackett will walk away from Old Trafford as free agents at the end of the season.

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Premier League
Gary Neville
Manchester United

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