Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has challenged his young stars to build on their impressive displays during the club's tour of South Africa when they return to England.
United travelled to Johannesburg on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's Vodacom Challenge Final against the winners of Thursday's Port Elizabeth play-off between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
And up-and-coming youngsters Lee Martin, Fraizer Campbell, Chris Eagles, Darron Gibson, Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson all jetted out of Durban having played in the 1-0 victory over Pirates at the Absa Stadium on Tuesday evening.
With United's huge wealth and global appeal, the club's ability to compete for the world's best players in the transfer market clearly hinders the prospects of Old Trafford's home-grown talent.
And Ferguson admits that the coming weeks will be crucial if some of his youngsters are to prove that they have what it takes to establish themselves in the European champions' squad.
Ferguson said: “The likes of Eagles and Martin have not had enough football over the last year, so this is an important time in their careers.
“Lee went out on loan last season, but spent a long time injured, while Chris declined the opportunity to go on loan. At 22, Chris now needs to show the progress he has made and I need to give him and Lee more football so that I can find out more about them.
“Jonny Evans did well while on loan at Sunderland last season and I believe he was instrumental in them staying up in the Premier League. He is a player with great composure and he will certainly make a career for himself.
“Darron Gibson went on loan to Wolves, but he had an injury and a family bereavement while he was there, so he hasn't had much football. I believe that he has a chance, though.
“And as for Fraizer Campbell, he had a fantastic season at Hull City and scored a lot of goals. He has a got a chance, but he must improve aspects of his game.”
United defender Wes Brown flew back to Manchester on Wednesday due to the death of his half-sister at the weekend. The England international remained in Durban to play ninety minutes against Pirates, but Ferguson admitted that the player had opted to take part in that game before returning home.
Ferguson said: “It was a decision that we took between us having spoken over the last two or three days. Wes wanted to play in Durban, but he was due to fly home on Wednesday.
“Because a post-mortem has to take place, there was no urgency for Wes to go back home, but he has now gone to take up his family duties.”
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