Manchester United's Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion offered the club the chance to prove it's still underpinned by a foundation of home-grown talent. Fresh off the production line, teenage defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson made his debut for the Red Devils as a second-half substitute against the Baggies, according to the Manchester Evening News:
The paper's official Man United News Twitter feed also captured the moment the youngster entered the game, replacing stand-in left-back Marcos Rojo:
Described as a "ball-playing defender with good stature and real presence," by the club's official site (h/t MailOnline's Kieran Gill), the 18-year-old is versatile enough to play a host of positions across the back line.
He's seen time as a centre-back, full-back and even in midfield, per United's official website. Borthwick-Jackson was also part of the teams that won the 2014 Milk Cup, as well as the under-19 side that featured in the UEFA Youth League under the guidance of ex-United youth graduate Nicky Butt.
Gill's article carried quotes from both under-18 boss Paul McGuinness, along with under-21 coach Warren Joyce. The former praised Borthwick-Jackson's rapid development: "Cameron has improved and developed throughout the season."
Joyce was similarly effusive about the player who joined the Red Devils as a schoolboy in 2013: "Cameron has been excellent really this season. He has gone from strength to strength."
Like many of the club's successful youth graduates, Borthwick-Jackson is a "former pupil at St Anthony's Catholic College, in Urmston, where former pupils include previous United youngsters Ravel Morrison and Tyler Blackett," as noted by the Mirror's Tyrone Marshall.
He also noted how the precocious defender has already earned plenty of experience on the international stage. Borthwick-Jackson has played for England at both under-16 and under-17 levels.
His inclusion in United's senior setup is to cover injuries. But Van Gaal's faith in the 18-year-old is also a telling reminder of the club's historic fidelity to giving promising youngsters their chance.