Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal turns to youth amid growing injury crisis.Getty

Manchester United's Under 21 team captain, Tom Thorpe, hopes to challenge for more first-team opportunities after his baptism of fire in the Premier League against West Ham on Saturday.

With Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, and Phil Jones all injured, and Tyler Blackett suspended, Louis van Gaal handed a starting role to Thorpes' Under 21 teammate Patrick "Paddy" McNair - while Thorpe himself came off the bench in the second half of the game to help his side to secure a 2-1 victory despite finishing the game with 10 men following Wayne Rooney's red card.

The Dutch manager has been credited during his long career with fostering new talent and since his summer move to Old Trafford has also handed debuts to Blackett, Will Keane, Jesse Lingard, Reece James, and Andreas Pereira.

Thorpe has been the last United prodigy to benefit from Van Gaal's trust in the youngsters and hopes to have more opportunities in the future.

"Obviously I was delighted to get on and hopefully there is more to come. I was very pleased, being a United fan and having been here from such a young age. To come through and get my first-team debut, I was very happy," the centre-back said to Manchester United official website.

"You can see a few lads making their debuts this season and the ones who have been in the team have done really well. As soon as you get a little bit, you want more and hopefully there will be."

Thorpe praised McNair after his Under 21 teammate had an impressive debut, even preventing a goal from Enner Valencia.

"Paddy did really well. His header basically saved a goal so he did great," he said.

Thorpe joined United in 2009 and has since developed in the Old Trafford academy, being currently the Under 21 captain after a season loan at Birmingham City.

Indeed, just two days after his first-team cameo on Saturday, he returned to captain the Under 21 side to a dramatic late victory over Totteham on Monday, scoring an injury time header.

"We're delighted with the win. It was a good game between two sides who wanted to play football and a good test. I clashed heads in the first half and got a lump so Marnick [Vermijl] said to me he didn't think I would have scored [the header] if that hadn't happened!"