Reece James: Brother of former United midfielder Matty, he has slotted into the side seamlessly and produced a string of decent performances at left-back. After being released by Preston, his patience and perseverance has been rewarded in style.
Michael Keane: Although he was right-back in the successful FA Youth Cup team in 2011, the England Under-21 international has matured into a superb centre-half. Outstanding for Leicester during a successful loan stint, he overcame his play-off heartache with the Foxes by helping the Reds beat Liverpool in the Under-21 semi-final.
Luke McCullough: Imposing centre-back who captained last year’s youth team but has had to bide his time for outings at this level. After returning from a loan at Cheltenham, the Northern Ireland Under-21 defender has been in and around the squad.
Tom Thorpe: Classy captain who has featured in all 32 games this season. The defender, who has also skippered his country at Under-19 level, added a new dimension to his game by playing in midfield at the start of the season but has returned to the back four to help run an extremely tight ship.
Marnick Vermijl: Ultra-consistent right-back who likes to get forward to support the attack but is very diligent in terms of his defending. The Belgian, a signing from Standard Liege, has had two very strong seasons at this level and, like Thorpe, was shortlisted for the Reserve Player of the Year award.
Larnell Cole: Skilful and intelligent midfielder with an eye for a pass and the ability to keep possession in tight spaces. Hitting peak form at just the right time, his hat-trick in the semi-final, which included two calmly-taken penalties, means he is leading scorer in all competitions in 2012/2013.
Mats Daehli: There is no doubting his ability or skill level and he is capable of beating defenders at will with his expert dribbling. Last year’s Young Player of the Year has often been played out wide but can be at his most dangerous when drifting into a central position.