Former Manchester United defender Henning Berg believes Michael Keane is perfectly capable of fulfilling his first team ambition at Old Trafford.
The 20-year-old returned from an impressive loan spell at Leicester City to help United clinch the under-21 Premier League crown last week and bring an end to what has been a significant season for the centre half.
With Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling blocking his route to the first team, Keane will likely need to secure another loan deal if he wants his meteoric rise to continue. But Berg believes the young defender has already proven to have the determination to go with his exceptional talent required to become a stalwart of the United defence for years to come.
"Sometimes it is difficult to judge centre halves over just one or two games because they can only play as well as the strikers they're up against. If they don't have too much to do it is difficult to see how good they can be," Berg told the Manchester Evening News.
"Both Keane and (Tom) Thorpe definitely have a chance, there is no doubt about that. You'd like to see them play against first team players and possibly go out on loan again.
"They're comfortable defensively and on the ball while having the right mentality. That is so important when you play for United."
Keane made 24 appearances for Leicester during his successful stint at the King Power Stadium, and only needs to look around the United dressing room to see how effective a loan spell away can truly be.
Both Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck benefited hugely from loan moves at Sunderland, while Tom Cleverley completed spells at every level from League One upwards before establishing himself as an important member of the United squad.
"If you can get one or two good loan deals and some proper competitive senior games next season then the pair of them have a really good chance of making a professional career and maybe getting into the United side.
"You'll always be looked after and given a chance if you are good enough. That comes from the manager and transmits to the senior pros to help the young kids coming through as well.
"It is too early to make any bold predictions, but they've handled themselves well and looked good."
In addition to his spell at Leicester, Keane also featured in two games for United alongside fellow hopeful Scott Wooton, with the duo impressing in Capital One Cup outings against Newcastle United and Chelsea.