Last weekend the Old Trafford faithful witnessed the surprise debut of 19-year-old central defender Paddy McNair. Facing a crisis in the heart of defence, Van Gaal decided to rely upon the ‘juice’ education and picked McNair over the likes of Fletcher and Blind to cover for the three injured right footed centre backs. Now facing the same problems in midfield with Ander Herrera‘s latest injury, will Van Gaal do the same again?
If he does, there is one stand-out candidate – Ben Pearson. A 19-year-old central midfielder capable of playing in any of the three central midfield roles, Pearson joined United in 2004 and has worked his way up through the youth teams. On the way, he has gained international recognition by being called up to the England U18s squad and became an integral part in Warren Joyce’s side.
Pearson is a passionate player known for his tough tackling, ferocious work rate and also has the ability to pick out a pass. He brings a calmness to United’s play in the Under-21s, keeping the ball moving smoothly but is also able to break up oppositions play and drive the team forward.
Out of the three orthodox central midfielders that could be promoted form the youth set up, many would agree that Pearson is the most deserving. An ever present in the reserve team Pearson rarely puts a foot ring and is always seen giving 110%.
A former winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the year award, Pearson will be eager to press on with his progress after seeing the likes of Blackett, McNair and Thorpe make their Premier League debuts.
“The manager has played a few youngsters already,” Pearson recently said in an interview with ManUtd.com.
“Tyler has been playing regularly and Reece James has played.
“A few of the lads were involved against MK Dons and, hopefully, all of us can come through.
“The manager has done it previously at Ajax and Barcelona and I hope he can do it here.
“There are a few young lads pushing for first-team places. It is all about getting an opportunity.
“There are always lads going up and training with the first team. You’ve just got to impress in those training sessions.
“I have done it a few times and it’s good but a lot faster and there is a lot more pressure. It’s great playing with players you’ve watched as a kid and learning off them.”
Pearson talks about his desire to break into the first team squad and clearly has faith that if he proves himself van Gaal will have no problems giving that chance. Come Sunday, he could get just that.