Joel Pereira and Scott McTominay are all the more determined to establish themselves in the Manchester United first team after full debuts to cherish.
Taking no risks ahead of Wednesday’s make-or-break Europa League final against Ajax, Jose Mourinho fielded a number of the club’s young prospects in the Premier League dead rubber against Crystal Palace.
United’s youngsters did not flounder against Sam Allardyce’s experienced side in the league finale at Old Trafford, with Josh Harrop marking his first appearance with a goal that Paul Pogba added to as United comfortably won 2-0.
Demetri Mitchell, McTominay and Pereira joined Harrop in making their full debuts on an afternoon when 16-year-old Angel Gomes came on to become the first player born this millennium to play in the top flight.
United’s starting line-up was their youngest ever in the Premier League, with the experience only whetting the appetite of shot-stopper Pereira.
“It was a great afternoon,” the Portuguese goalkeeper said after his first start for the club.
“Happy with the clean sheet and the performance from all the squad and the young boys as well, and a win at Old Trafford is always special, so very pleased.
“I just told myself to go out there and enjoy and do your best and things will come. It was great, clean sheet, a good start and hopefully it is the first of many.”
There was no chance to ask Mourinho about his compatriot’s display as the United boss zoomed out of the post-match press conference, but recently he said Pereira would be “the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation”.
The 20-year-old thanked his boss for the kind words and Sunday’s opportunity, which he is determined to get on a far more regular basis moving forwards.
“(Being number one at United) is what I want to do most and I will work hard for it,” Pereira said.
“Obviously I need to be patient – I am a young goalkeeper at one of the top clubs in the world.
“But my goal is to be the number one of United and hopefully I will get there and I will make sure I do that by working hard.”
McTominay is another dreaming of making a long-term impact at United.
At the club since the age of five, the midfielder followed up his appearance as a late substitute at Arsenal earlier in the month with a solid display on his first start.
“Obviously it was a brilliant experience today with all the young lads making their debuts and having a positive result in the end,” McTominay, 20, said.
“We wanted to go out and win the game and that is what we did.
“It was an unbelievable feeling going out there in front of 75,000 people – the biggest crowd that a lot of our lads have played in front of.
“You’ve just got to embrace that whenever you go out there and play like it is a normal game, and go and grab the opportunity.
“If you want to be a top, top player, you have to play in pressured environments in these games.
“Throughout my career I want to be playing in the Premier League so that’s the most important thing for me, to get as many of these games as I possibly can and hopefully push into the first team.”