Nick Powell could have a future at Manchester United, despite his departure on loan to Hull City appearing to signal the end of his career at Old Trafford. The 21-year-old's contract will expire at the climax to the campaign, and having been sent to Championship promotion contenders Hull for the remainder of the season his future looked bleak.
Powell has made a total of nine senior appearances for the Red Devils since arriving from Crewe Alexandra in the summer of 2012. The England Under-21 international has spent spells at Wigan Athletic and Leicester City in order to increase his experience, but first-team opportunities have been few and far between.
The England youth international made two surprising appearances under Louis van Gaal in the back-to-back defeats to Wolfsburg in the Champions League and AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League after recovering from a string of hamstring problems. Powell has yet to make an appearance for Hull since arriving at the KC Stadium, but manager Steve Bruce has indicated the player is playing for his United future.
"Manchester United have kept their options open and because he is under 24, they can do that," Bruce said, according to the Hull Daily Mail. "I don't know if they have closed the door on him or not, but maybe the key is what he does here between now and the end of the season.
"Mick Phelan knows him well and, of course, I spoke with Ryan [Giggs] at length about him. It's fair to say Ryan really likes him as a player. He's only trained with us three times so we're still seeing how he is physically. We have to manage him because it would be wrong of me to just throw him in if he's not ready."
United will hope that the problems suffered by Powell – who has been compared to Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli – will be amended by Nicky Butt, who has been appointed the club's new head of academy. A root and branch review of the youth set-up led to the move and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward says Butt's link with the club's successful past will prove vital.
"Nicky has the traditions and heritage of this club in his blood and he is the natural choice to ensure that, in modernising the way the academy operates and shaping the new investment we are making, it retains the values and the focus that it has always had," he said.
"As a graduate of its finest team in the modern era, Nicky will bring passion, energy and experience to drive the academy forward, retaining the characteristics that give us a competitive advantage – namely an unmatched track record of player development together with the runway of first-team action."