Manchester United could be prepared to hand a first team debut to Belgian teenager Charni Ekangamene as David Moyes prepares to ring in the changes as the busy Christmas period looms.
The Premier League champions welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford on Wednesday night in the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup; the first of four games in 10 days.
Ahead of the visit of Mark Hughes' side, former Antwerp starlet Ekangamene was handed the number 43 shirt and was involved in the 25-man squad that travelled to Aston Villa on Sunday without making the bench.
While Moyes may have simply been affording the teenager the chance to experience an away trip with the first team squad, the hectic fixture schedule and United's limited options in midfield could potentially give him a role to play against the Potters.
After Ryan Giggs played 70 minutes in United's 3-0 win over Villa and Tom Cleverley completed the 90, Moyes may look to hand the duo a rest. Darren Fletcher's return to first team action was a welcome boost for the club, but having not played any football since Boxing Day last year prior to his substitute appearance at Villa Park, he is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the starting line-up.
Ekangamene, who has been at the club since he was 16, is an assertive, defensive minded midfielder and impressed for Warren Joyce's Under-21 side last season after graduating from the youth ranks.
United have the chance to close the gap on their rivals over the next 10 days with a clash against West Ham United awaiting them at the weekend ahead of trips to Hull City and Norwich City.
In order to maintain their climb up the Premier League table, Moyes is mindful of keeping his squad fresh.
"We have a squad of players who I believe can all play in any game, so I'll see who I think is ready," Moyes told reporters.
"We have a lot of games coming up and we need to use that squad. I'll look at this game and see who is best suited. But I think we have fielded a strong side in every game we have played.
"There were a few I expected to play (against Villa) but got injured on Saturday before we travelled down. There is nothing fresh and hopefully I won't find anything fresh."