Nick Powell has plenty of qualities Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal can use, insists Under-21 coach Warren Joyce. Powell, 22, had played in just two Under-21 games in an injury-hit 2015 before he was surprisingly included in United's squad for their crucial Champions League showdown with Wolfsburg on 8 December.
With his side chasing a win to reach the knockout stages of the competition, Van Gaal introduced Powell off the bench – his first appearance for the first team in over 14 months – to replace Juan Mata in a decision that staggered many.
The former Crewe Alexandra starlet was again thrown into the deep end on Saturday against Bournemouth, replacing Marouane Fellaini after 74 minutes in another baffling change from the manager.
On both occasions, he was unable to help his side as they crashed to defeat, playing in an advanced role.
Powell emerged from Crewe's academy as a midfielder, enjoyed his best form as a forward while on loan at Wigan Athletic and has featured for Under-21s in a position just off the main striker. While the youngster's sudden inclusion in the first team has not been explained by Van Gaal, Joyce believes it is that versatility that has impressed the manager.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Joyce said: "I know he played in midfield when he was younger. He is a good footballer he has got a lot to his game. Good feet, good range of passing, he is strong, he can head it, he can and he can score.
"There is a lot of things that can be utilised. It depends on the manager's choice as for him and the things you ask him to do.
"You can do a lot with him. He can lead the line, I've seen him play wide. At Wigan he did particularly well. He has played centre-midfield but not as many times, but he's got the capabilities to play there as well."