Gary Neville believes it is imperative for Manchester United to have a nucleus of young English players, particularly at this time of transition at Old Trafford.
Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck were all first-team regulars during the 2012/13 title-winning season, clocking up an impressive 118 appearances between them. And having noted their progression, Neville sees a bright future ahead.
However, after a couple of encouraging campaigns, the Reds legend thinks the talented group must now step up and cement starting places under new manager David Moyes, citing the recent advancements made by David De Gea, Jonny Evans and Rafael da Silva as examples to follow.
“It is critical to have young English players at the club who are coming through and have good potential,” Gary told ManUtd.com. “Those players need to develop and become better. They are now champions after winning the title; they should gain confidence from that and want to go again.
“They should also feel more mature after the experience of losing the title last year and winning it back this season. They are two years on and this third season is where they really need to perform, kick on and become Manchester United players.
“There is a pressure on young players but in the first two years you are given a lot of leeway because you are young. Next year, you are getting to that 22 or 23 age and some of them will need to perform on a far more consistent basis, getting into the starting team more regularly.
“We have seen Jonny Evans do it in some ways, other players like Rafael have done it after being in and out for a couple of seasons and now he is number one. David De Gea, for instance, was swapping with Anders Lindegaard and now he is the number one.
“We have seen young players take that step and now it is for Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley to move into that position where they are full-time