Memphis Depay
Depay came off the bench again against Sunderland but has not started a game since Boxing Day.Getty

Patrick Kluivert has defended Memphis Depay's inauspicious start to life at Manchester United, but admits the forward must make more of the opportunities given to him.

Depay, 22, has not started a game for United since the Boxing Day defeat to Stoke City, where a defensive lapse directly led to his side conceding. While he enjoyed a bright cameo appearance off the bench against Newcastle United in mid-January, he has failed to win his spot back and was criticised for his role in Chelsea's late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Three assists in a 7-0 thrashing of Norwich City for United's Under-21 ranks provided a timely boost for the Dutchman, but impressing on a consistent basis for Louis van Gaal has eluded him since the early months of the season.

However Kluivert, who served as Van Gaal's assistant for the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup, insists the former PSV Eindhoven starlet must be given more time to adapt to a new league.

"Memphis is a player with huge quality and that's not something you lose, even at times like these," he said in an interview with Fifa's official website. "It's simply a question of confidence and making the most of your opportunities. He needs time to adapt to a new city and playing style. It's only his first year and I think he will end up being a success. He's a great player and will be important to the Netherlands' future."

United begin their Europa League campaign against Danish champions Midtjylland on Thursday 18 February, before taking on Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup fifth-round clash the following Monday.

The busy schedule is likely to see Depay handed a route back to the first team after Van Gaal was impressed by his performance for the Under-21s against Norwich.

"The game he played against Norwich was a good game for him. I think a lot of fans enjoyed his performance; I was there also and I watched him," the manager said, as quoted on United's official site.

"There was a lot of criticism but you have to cope with that. For him it was a very good match as it could raise his confidence and I have seen the reaction of the fans.

"These fans are the real fans, those who look to the second team, and they were very enthusiastic. He had three assists, but all his actions were very enthusiastic and it is also good for him."