Manchester United have another “four or five” exciting youngsters following in the footsteps of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong, says academy manager Nicky Butt.
The Red Devils have benefited considerably from the production of home-grown talent in the past.
Former midfielder Butt formed part of the fabled Class of ’92 and is now in the business of bringing through stars of tomorrow.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, current boss of the senior side, has made it clear that he will be keeping a pathway to the first team open.
And Butt is expecting more to tread it at Old Trafford, telling PA Sport: “We’re all excited about these young boys and there’s probably another four or five in the background that are slowly going to come up behind them.
“Hopefully more behind that and more behind that, but they’re only babies and young at the minute.
“But, for me, it’s difficult to bring in a lot of players into a team that’s not firing on all cylinders, if you like.”
Butt knows all about the pressures of life at United and admits it is important for the club to shield those with obvious potential from the expectation of life under the brightest of spotlights.
He added: “You have to be careful when you put these players in because if they get too much expectation on their shoulders at an early age, a few bad games can see them fall by the wayside.
“We know ourselves as adults. When you get rejection as a young teenager, whether it be football, girl doesn’t fancy you or something happens at college, you fail your driving licence, it’s like the end of the world.
“So, can you imagine playing in front of 76,000, having a bad game and getting beat 4-0 and you’re reading the paper – because they all read papers and obviously now it’s social media – and you get a bit of stick on there? It can kill them.
“I genuinely do believe that we have some really, really top talent but my concern would be putting too much weight on their shoulders at this moment in time, which might have to happen because of injuries or suspensions or whatever goes on in the squad dynamic.”
Fortunately for United, they have plenty of mentors on their books.
Rashford, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay have all come through the system in Manchester to become established international stars.
Asked if they have a big role to play in the nurturing of the next generation, Butt said: “Yeah, they can. They can play a big role by going on the pitch and performing.
“But at this club, you have to perform week in, week out, every single week, in front of 76,000, twice a week.
“It’s very, very difficult and the message we want to give as an academy and as a club is, yeah, Mason Greenwood, if you want to use his name, he looks like an unbelievable, talented boy, which he is.
“But the word ‘boy’ is what he is, and we have to just, as a fanbase and supporters, be patient with these boys.