Manchester United injury problems are what gave rise to so many first-team debuts for home-grown youngsters during Louis van Gaal's two seasons at Old Trafford. It was precisely that which handed Marcus Rashford his sensational rise and Scott McTominay is the latest academy graduate to mix it with the first-team after being named on the bench on Sunday.
Fans will have been familiar with the name of Axel Tuanzebe - the 19-year-old defender has been in contention fairly regularly over the last few weeks as a result of numerous centre-back injuries and was a name of plenty of lips two years ago when he won the club's Young Player of the Year award.
But the inclusion of the unknown McTominay, assigned the same number 39 shirt Rashford had last season, came as a far greater surprise after he was given his chance as part of the senior group in light of Marouane Fellaini's suspension.
Born in Lancaster, McTominay is actually slightly older than Rashford having celebrated his 20th birthday in December. The pair were contemporaries at Under-16 level and would share 'number 10' duties before Rashford made the transition to a striker role.
McTominay himself was also later pushed further forward at reserve level, no doubt aided by his towering 6ft4 frame, but he has generally found his home in a deeper central midfield role - either in a holding or box-to-box position that could yet bring comparisons with Paul Pogba.
proud to be involved with the team today ❤️ pic.twitter.com/T3bEK9NW2I
— Scott Mctominay (@mctominay10) April 30, 2017
In that respect, the youngster has developed physical strength to accompany his height and is said to be good in the air. He has technical ability as well, though, yielding a description of "technically sound with good skills and excellent in the keep-ball sessions," from former coach Warren Joyce.
McTominay drew praise when he made his Under-21 debut for United last year in a game against Liverpool. The Reds had first-teamers Martin Skrtel and Steven Caulker lining up and the United man called it "a good indicator of where I was and how much I needed to improve".
McTominay, who was first spotted by United when he was barely five years old, told ManUtd.com earlier this season that he takes inspiration from Jesse Lingard's journey from the academy to first-team star, citing the winger's FA Cup final winning goal in particular.
"It just shows how far you can actually come. A lot of people may have written Jesse off when he was a lot younger and smaller and thought he might not be capable of playing at the top level but look at him now, he's done it," McTominay said.
Banned only for domestic games, Fellaini will be eligible when United face Celta Vigo in the Europa League this week, while Pogba's return from injury is also expected sooner rather than later. So while actual first-team playing chances might not come McTominay's way quite this season, remember the name and watch out for potential pre-season opportunities in summer.
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