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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reiterated his commitment to have small first-team squads in order to give the club's youth prospects a chance to progress into the first team. The Dutch manager has a great legacy of promoting youth to the senior team during his reign at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and is determined to do the same during his tenure at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford was the most recent entrant into the first-team fold, when he made his debut against FC Midtjylland in the second leg of the Europa League last 32 clash.
The Dutchman has already promoted a number of youngsters to the senior team in the last two seasons, with Paddy McNair, Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela among others getting an opportunity to showcase their talent in the Premier League and Europa League. The latter two, however, were drafted in due to the Red Devils' massive injury crisis, especially in the defensive department. They are currently without 14 first-team stars ahead of their clash against Arsenal, with David de Gea, the only player among the injured certain to make the squad for the visit of the Gunners.
"I shall never use youth for myself, only to improve the team. I have a philosophy that I don't want big squads because then you cannot give youngsters a chance," Van Gaal said, as quoted by the Mirror.
"Now because of that you see a lot of youngsters who can show their quality, and you can also win. But it's a big risk. Manchester United also want to give youngsters a chance. It is in the culture of Manchester United. We are doing that but we have had a lot of bad luck. It is not normal that you have 14 injured players."
Rashford made a stunning start to life in the senior team when he started and scored two goals during their 5-1 demolition of the Danish club in the Europa League, and with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney injured, he could be in line for a start against Arsenal on Sunday (28 February). Van Gaal, however, is cautious about throwing him into the deep end too soon but will certainly keep him in the squad due to a shortage of attacking players.
"I don't know. It's his first game, it's not so easy. He gave a brilliant performance but we are looking for consistent strikers and there are not so many on this Earth," the Dutch manager added.