Football: That was the weekend that was: No regrets but plenty of memories for Casper

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BEN THORNLEY, one of the stars of Huddersfield Town's FA Cup run, is not the only former Manchester United youngster discovering a new lease of life away from the shadows of Old Trafford.

Chris Casper, who attended United's Centre of Excellence at the start of an eight-year association with the club, was good enough to win England Under-21 caps under Alex Ferguson's husbandry - but not to claim a regular place in the Old Trafford first team.

Now 23, he finally made the break last September, joining Second Division Reading for pounds 200,000 and has not looked back. "United is one of the biggest and best clubs in the world and I had nearly eight great years there," Casper said. "It did not work out as I wanted but I have taken positive things from the experience and try to use them in everything I do at Reading. If you can't learn from being with such a great club you can't learn from anything."

Loan spells with Bournemouth and Swindon gave Casper an appetite for regular first-team games and the chance to escape the shadows with Reading was not difficult to take.

So successful has the move proved for both parties that Reading have risen from next-to-bottom to mid-table in the Second Division, with hopes of a play-off place.

Casper helped Reading pick up another useful away point on Saturday on a ground with particularly special memories for him. It was at Burnley's Turf Moor, in Chris's home town, that his father, Frank Casper, became a goalscoring legend in the late Sixties.