Just 17, Wales youth centre-back Regan Poole made his senior debut for Manchester United after a summer move from Newport – could he fill Rio Ferdinand's boots at Old Trafford?
Article top media content
Having made his senior Manchester United debut this week, 17-year-old Regan Poole is fulfilling the promise he showed with Wales's youth teams, the Under-21 international having become of the country's most-talked-about prospects when he swapped Newport County for Old Trafford last summer.
Name: Regan Poole
Club: Manchester United
Debut: 20 September 2014 v Shrewsbury Town (for Newport)
Date of birth: 18 June 1998
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"It was a fantastic performance from him. His temperament in front of a big following and a great atmosphere was outstanding. I would have no worries playing him again. He's way ahead of his age and you wouldn't know he was 16."
Newport manager Justin Edinburgh after handing Poole his debut aged 16 years and 94 days
After he was released from the Cardiff City youth ranks in June 2014, it appeared inconceivable that Poole would make his Football League debut three months later. However, a switch from midfield to defence brought with it a second chance in the professional game, and with the teenager trusted to marshal the Newport County back line aged 16, his assured displays and natural maturity triggered interest and an eventual move to boyhood favourites Manchester United.
Playing style ...
A composed and stylish centre-back with the ability to time a tackle perfectly, read the game like a veteran, and serenely play the ball out of defence under pressure. It is difficult to believe Poole is still just 17, given his level-headedness in a position normally occupied by more experienced pros. He seemingly has the temperament to take everything in his stride.
Shades of ...
His position and nationality invite comparisons to Wales captain Ashley Williams, another supremely composed centre-half. However, Poole brings to his work an almost preternatural confidence that defies his years, much like Everton's England defender John Stones, or a young Rio Ferdinand.
Eureka moment ...
When Newport awarded the then 16-year-old his senior bow at the heart of their rearguard; he earned rave reviews from Edinburgh and went on to make 11 appearances for County in England's fourth tier during the 2014/15 campaign. Made his first Manchester United as a substitute in the 5-1 victory over Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League earlier this week.
Best-case scenario ...
A member of Louis van Gaal's UEFA Europa League squad, Poole will hope his progress presents further opportunities this term. However, patience could be a big factor in his development, with the tyro likely to remain a pivotal part of United's U21 team for a few years. International elevation may not be far off, though, even if a spot in Chris Coleman's UEFA EURO 2016 squad is probably asking a bit too much at this stage of his career.
He says ...