Five Manchester United Under-21s to watch

Sports Mole assesses which of the Manchester United Under-21 side could break into the first team with the club's former defender Danny Higginbotham.

Manchester United have a long history of giving youngsters a chance to fulfil their potential in the senior side.

Even if said players do not make the grade at Old Trafford, the Premier League and Football League are littered with footballers that spent time having their talent nurtured with the Red Devils.

Danny Higginbotham knows all about that, having made seven appearances for the club before going on to feature for Derby County, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United and now Chester.

Danny Higginbotham in action for Manchester United against Watford on April 29, 2000© Getty Images

The 34-year-old now splits his playing time with media commitments, which has seen him co-commentate on Man United's current crop of young players. So, having made the step from the youth team to the first team himself, Sports Mole asked the defender who he could see catching the attention of David Moyes, just as he did with Sir Alex Ferguson back in 1998.

The Keane brothers, Will and Michael

"Will had a bad injury which he has come back from well. He made an appearance for the first team before that so he is obviously highly thought of. From what I've seen so far, he's returned from that injury and has really hit the ground running. He can put the ball in the back of the net, which is one of the hardest things to do.

"His brother, Michael, has been out on loan and got some experience in the Championship, which has proved to be vital for his progression. He's come back a more mature player and is a very solid, strong defender."

Guillermo Varela

"Against Bolton and Everton, he was very good. He's a good player. In an attacking sense he seems more than capable. Against Everton he had to defend a lot more and one thing that really impressed me was that he covered around the back post when the ball was on the opposite side of the pitch to him. That makes it more difficult for strikers to score from crosses and he defended well throughout the game.

Manchester United full-back Guillermo Varela in action for Uruguay Under-20s in January 2013.© Getty Images

"At Manchester United, because they spend a lot of their time attacking, it's important that the full-backs have an attacking sense about them. Full-backs have become very important in football, not just defensively because they can also start off the attacks. A lot of full-backs that are coming into the game are converted wingers and like Rafael da Silva, Varela seems capable of doing that."

Larnell Cole

"He's a very clever player in that he seems to connect the midfield to Keane up front. He always seems to be consistent and tends to get into very dangerous positions. He can also bring others into play."

Adnan Januzaj

"Adnan Januzaj was the first one that caught my eye during the match with Bolton. He stood out as someone that looked full of confidence and had that little something a bit special. He played that day then made his full debut against Sunderland that weekend. It shows that if the youngsters are doing well, Moyes is willing to give them the opportunity.

Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United looks on during a training session at Aon Training Complex on November 4, 2013© Getty Images

"The great thing about Moyes coming in as manager is that he showed at Everton that he is not afraid to give youngsters a chance. He doesn't care what age they are, as long as he thinks they are good enough, they will get the opportunity. He's shown that with what has happened with Januzaj this season."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline during his team's Premier League match against Stoke on September 22, 2013
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
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2Manchester CityMan City25164551292252
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs25148346182850
4Arsenal25155554282650
5Liverpool25147454302449
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd25139338211748
7Everton26128642271544
8West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2611783632440
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113544-933
10Stoke CityStoke258893036-632
11Burnley2694132837-931
12Watford2687113043-1331
13Southampton2586112831-330
14Bournemouth2675143651-1526
15Swansea CitySwansea2673163257-2524
16Middlesbrough26410121928-922
17Crystal Palace2664163346-1322
18Leicester CityLeicester2556142443-1921
19Hull City2656152350-2721
20Sunderland2654172448-2419