Talismanic Giggs looking for next generation of United stars

ALMOST 20 years ago, Ryan Giggs scored as Manchester United knocked Leeds United out of the Carling Cup.

The Welsh international was already in his second season as an Old Trafford regular and seemingly destined for greatness, something he has gone on to achieve by beating Bobby Charlton’s appearance record for the club.

What few could surely believe, however, as Giggs netted the third goal in a 3-1 win for Alex Ferguson was his longevity would be such that almost two decades on he would still be banging the goals in, as happened a week ago in the Champions League draw with Benfica.

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Tonight, he will return to Elland Road as the elder statesman of the visiting side and someone who the rest of the squad look up to.

Giggs is expected to be joined in the starting line-up by Paul Pogba and possibly Will Keane, two of the youngsters who helped the Old Trafford club beat Sheffield United in last season’s FA Youth Cup final.

He said: “There are young players coming through at United but this is an important part of their career. When you look at the lads who came through in my age group, then those who followed – Wes Brown and John O’Shea, for instance – when they got their chance, they took it.

“Once you hit 17, 18 and 19, that is what you have to do.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is if you get a chance to train with the first team, or in a match as a substitute, you need to make an impact. You need to force the manager not leave you out of the next game.”

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The initial quest will be to secure a place in the fourth round to give themselves another opportunity to play. Giggs, now in his 22nd season as a professional, feels will determine whether United’s current crop fulfil the potential they showed in winning last season’s FA Youth Cup.

“It is tough because there is a lot of quality in the first team,” said the Welshman.

“The majority have the quality. That is not really in doubt.

“The question is, do they have the desire and appetite to take it up a step more?”