ALEX FERGUSON is tipping Nick Powell to eventually replace Paul Scholes at Manchester United.
Powell is presently 699 United appearances and 154 goals behind Scholes following his scoring debut in a 4-0 win over Wigan yesterday.
Yet in pure age terms, he is actually in front of the legendary midfielder.
Scholes was approaching his 20th birthday when he made his first-team debut for the Red Devils.
It was an eye-catching start all right, netting twice in a League Cup tie at Port Vale to launch one of the most illustrious careers English football has ever known.
Powell was not even born at the time. But already the teenager shares a couple of traits with his new team-mate.
His superb goal means the 18-year-old's debut will be remembered. And, just like Scholes, he is not comfortable talking to the media.
Not that Ferguson is fussed about that.
"Nick Powell is going to be a really good player," he said.
"He has a great temperament, is two-footed and quick.
"He is a good physical specimen and has terrific vision.
"We hope Powell fills Paul Scholes' boots. For an 18-year-old boy it has been a terrific day."
Although he accepted an invitation to speak to Manchester United's own TV channel after the game, not even MUTV could put Powell at ease as the former Crewe man tiptoed into the limelight.
"When I first came out onto the pitch, the crowd scared me a little bit," he said.
"I am only used to 5,000 people every now and then.
"It is a great feeling but I will keep myself on the ground."
Powell did admit he is learning a great deal from training alongside Scholes.
"It is unbelievable. He has so much experience," he said.
"He came off when I came on but it was great to be on the pitch with the lot of them, especially Scholes making his 700th appearance for United."
Scholes prodded United in front at the start of the second half, with Javier Hernandez and another debutant Alexander Buttner also on target before Powell struck.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez reacted angrily after the match, claiming - perhaps with some justification - that Danny Welbeck had dived to win United an early penalty and should later have been sent off for a rash tackle on Franco di Santo.