It remains unclear if the Lancaster-born midfielder Scott McTominay will end up representing Scotland or England in years to come.
McTominay has spent all his life in England but has Scottish ancestry and a battle is potentially looming over which nation will acquire his services.
The unassuming 21-year-old’s future at international level remains unclear but his prospects at club level are becoming increasingly defined and promising.
Five months after his 20th birthday, the central midfielder made his professional debut as he came on for the Red Devils in a defeat at Arsenal.
An uncertain future
For many, his development had gone under the radar at the club and there were suspicions he would never make the grade at Old Trafford.
It has not always been straightforward for McTominay, who grew a remarkable 10 inches in less than two years after his 17th birthday.
Such rapid growth transformed him from a fleet-forward attacker into a rangy central midfielder, with former United Under-21’s boss Warren Boyce insisting on the role change.
He missed most of the side’s 2014-15 campaign due to growth-related injuries and only made 11 appearances across the youth teams the following seasons due to further fitness setbacks.
Making the grade
McTominay's rise to prominence with the Under-21 squad coincided with Jose Mourinho’s arrival as first-team manager at Old Trafford and, despite having numerous critics when it comes to introducing youth players, the Portuguese boss deserves full credit for integrating the midfielder into the first-team squad since the tail end of last season.
A player without obvious outstanding natural ability or the quality to turn a game on it’s head, his performances are consistent and his reading and knowledge of the game, positional play and tactical disciple are unquestionable. As a result, he is exactly the midfielder whom Mourinho adores and which his side’s midfield is crying out for.
"I think Scott deserves more than what he is getting," Mourinho remarked after the 2-0 win at Huddersfield.
"Maybe it's because he's this kind of kid profile: a normal haircut, no tattoos, no big cars, no big watches, humble kid, arrive in the club when he was nine or 10.
"Last season, he was almost leaving the club to go somewhere, who knows where, who knows in which division he would be playing now.
"He has now played already, I don't know, seven or eight 90 minutes - he's not played five or 10 minutes - in every competition: Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup."
Looking back to happier days
Many United fans yearn for a side similar of those who provided English dominance in the 1990s and the latter half of the 2000s, yet many forget that players of McTominay’s ilk provided the backbone to those squads.
Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona and other sublime attacking talents may have provided the most memorable recollections yet Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and latterly Darren Fletcher, Park Ji-Sung and John O’Shea played pivotal squad roles in success on both the domestic and European stages.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez compliments the outrageous natural talent in areas of Manchester United’s squad, yet the side remains unbalanced and without the clear, coherent plans evident at other rivals and particularly Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. McTominay offers the glue to allow teammates to push on and display their prowess.
A results game
It was the 21-year-old who replaced Paul Pogba in both 2-0 victories over Huddersfield and nobody could have any complaints with either performance.
A player who knows the club inside out – having moved to Old Trafford aged 5 – and who is aware of his own limitations yet provides others with a platform to showcase their talent.
His role may never be fully appreciated by those watching on but for managers and teammates his are qualities which can never be overlooked.
McTominay is another product from a talented youth system which yet again has handed a massive boost for the first-team squad.
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