Paddy McNair is hoping to save Louis van Gaal from spending big this summer by becoming Manchester United’s holding midfielder.
The 20-year-old played in midfield for Northern Ireland in their recent friendlies against Wales and Slovenia and McNair believes his future at Old Trafford could be in a similar position.
Youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah and midfielder Michael Carrick have both started ahead of McNair in central defence recently, while 17-year-old RoShaun Williams was named on the bench ahead of him against West Ham and Liverpool.
McNair, who made his debut for United in September 2014, thinks of himself as a midfield player and was only switched to a defender while he was in the youth team.
“I am learning about the holding midfield position and really enjoy playing it for Northern Ireland,” McNair told the Belfast Telegraph.
“A lot of people said when I was growing up that I would end up in midfield and to have played there a few times at international level is great.
“I started playing centre-back for United and maybe now people see me as a centre-back but personally I think I’m more of a midfielder.
“If I had the chance to play the holding midfield role at United that would be fantastic.
“If I’m told though to play centre-back, right-back or wherever, I’ll be happy enough because I want to play games.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries this season which haven’t helped so my aim is to keep working hard at the club and get as many matches as I can until the end of the season.
“We have Everton on Sunday and if I’m involved that would be great. I really want to keep my fitness up for the Euros and go into that tournament feeling confident.”
Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marouane Fellaini have all played in the holding role for Van Gaal, but nobody has made the position their own.