Michael Carrick talks up Manchester United youngsters


Michael Carrick is certain Sir Alex Ferguson will not be disappointed if he does throw his youngsters into tomorrow night's Carling Cup quarter-final with Crystal Palace.

With injuries biting deep into his midfield reserves, Ferguson has confirmed he will hand 18-year-old France youth international Paul Pogba his full debut at Old Trafford.

Often likened to Patrick Vieira in playing style, Pogba's move to United from Le Havre was completed amid much acrimony from the French outfit.

However, his development has shown why United's coaching staff were so keen to work with the teenager, who was a key figure in last season's FA Youth Cup-winning squad.

Now, after substitute appearances at Leeds and Aldershot in earlier rounds, Pogba is set to get his chance from the start, with others, such as Larnell Cole and Ravel Morrison, itching for their opportunity too.

After working with them on the training ground these past few months, Carrick is positive United's fans will not be disappointed.

"I would back them to produce, definitely," said the England international.

"They certainly have the talent.

"They are good players. They wouldn't be threatening to play if they weren't.

"They have been doing things right, now it is about going to that next step.

"There are not loads of opportunities to come into the first-team, so the Carling Cup is probably the best way to establish yourself."

Once again, criticism of United's midfield was aired after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

Yet Ferguson remains defiant, insisting he will not go into the transfer market just for the sake of it, believing the answers to his problems may be rather closer to hand than many think.

"This is a great place to learn your trade," said Carrick.

"The manager is the best at guiding young players through when he sees they are ready.

"They have had little snippets before and I am sure they will do well if the manager puts them in."

Although in one sense, the Red Devils got away with a disappointing result when Manchester City failed to win at Liverpool on Sunday, in truth, dropping those two points against Newcastle was a setback in their hopes of retaining the Premier League title.

Just now, it may seem to place minimal additional importance on tomorrow's game.

However, as Ferguson never likes to end a season without some silverware, hindsight may just highlight it as a key game.

And, unlike the FA Cup, which these days tends to get in the way of major European matches as well as the league run-in, the latter stages of the Carling Cup creep up quickly, with the semi-finals contested during the Champions League shut-down.

"There is no harm in getting into the habit of winning games, no matter what competition it is in," said Carrick.

"Some people have written it off as not being so important. But lifting that trophy in February gives you a great feeling.

"It gives you a lot of belief going into the end of the season, not just as players but as a club.

"Winning trophies it gives everyone a boost. It is something we are not taking lightly that's for us."

And United are not on their own as Tottenham were the only side out of the established top six not to reach the quarter-finals and they have the additional distraction of covering the long distances involved in the Europa League.

"Certain years in the past there have been quite a few lesser teams left in at this stage," said Carrick.

"That is not the case this year. This competition is very strong."