Donald Love
Manchester United currently have seven first-team defenders sidelined with injuries which handed the youngster an oppportunityGetty

Former Manchester United academy chief Brian McClair has heaped praise on Donald Love after the young defender made his debut for the Red Devils during their 2-1 loss at the Stadium of Light to Sunderland on Saturday (13 February). The young right-back came on in the 37th minute to replace Matteo Darmian, who suffered a shoulder injury, which is set to keep him out for a few weeks.

The 20-time English champions are facing a major injury crisis in their defensive department and are currently without seven first-team defenders going into a crucial part of the season, which will see them take part in three competitions in the coming weeks. Louis van Gaal's main problem is in the full back department, where his first and second choice options are currently sidelined with injuries with the manager fielding youth team stars Cameron Borthwick Jackson and now Love.

The latter is set to be thrown into the deep end with United set to play four games in the space of 11 games, and he is likely to be part of the starting XI unless Guillermo Varela recovers from the knock he suffered during an appearance for the United U21 side. The former head of the United academy, who is currently part of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), believes the experience will only help the young Scot develop into a better footballer in the future.

"Making your debut for such a big club like Manchester United is nerve-wracking for any player, let alone a young player in such a high-pressure environment like a Premier League match. He'd have no doubt been apprehensive, but he was positive in his involvement in the match," McClair said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.

"From that first moment onwards he settled in to the flow of the match, and along with United's other young full-back (Cameron Borthwick-Jackson), he was one of United's most attacking threats on Saturday. I think it's a great sign of progress that he was given a chance by the manager to show what he can do."

"With the injuries at United at the moment, he has a chance of getting more games under his belt, and I'm sure that is something that Gordon will be keeping an eye on. He's got a lot going for him, but overall to see a young Scottish player feature in that environment can only be a positive thing," the former Red Devils academy chief added.