Memphis Depay and Will Keane sent a reminder of their abilities to manager Louis van Gaal after the pair starred in the thrashing of Norwich City in the Under-21 Premier League. Keane struck five times while Dutch international Depay set up four as the hosts cruised to a 7-0 win which keeps them hot on the heels of leaders Sunderland.
Keane has not played for United all season having spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Preston North End, where he scored one goal in 22 appearances in all competitions. Depay, 21, meanwhile has not started for the club since the Boxing Day defeat at Stoke City and has seen just 120 minutes' worth of action in England's top flight in the last two months.
With Keane having not made a senior appearance for United since his debut against Blackburn Rovers on New Year's Eve in 2011 and had unsuccessful loan spells at the likes of Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic, the 23-year-old's future prospects with the club look bleak. Similarly Depay, who has suffered a difficult first season in the Premier League, has been marginalised in recent weeks – though he did come off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
However, both players took their chance to inject new life into their United careers in front of the on looking Van Gaal. With United fighting on three fronts between now and the end of the season, with their Europa League campaign due to start on 18 February against Midtjylland the Dutch coach will need to use the breadth of his squad to cope with the schedule.
The pair wasted little time as they sought to make an impression, with Keane netting his first after just 13 minutes before he doubled his tally after Depay's assist. The pair combined for a second time two minutes after the break as Keane completed his hat-trick – but the former England Under-21 international was not finished there.
Andreas Pereira struck from the penalty spot before Keane produced an audacious chip over Canaries goalkeeper Remi Matthews just past the hour. Depay then set up Tim Fosu-Mensah for a breakaway goal before Keane finished like he started as he converted James Weir's ball.
Adnan Januzaj and Guillermo Varela both went off injured in either half to overshadow an otherwise encouraging evening for United, which saw Phil Jones come through a 58-minute cameo unscathed as he looked to regain full fitness. But the headlines belonged to Depay and Keane, who breathed new life into their first team prospects.