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The Carling Cup has again given rise to United's rising stars again this season.

Assistant boss Mike Phelan and first-team coach Rene Meulensteen run the rule over the young men who helped get the Reds to Sunday's final and could play a part in winning it...

Darron Gibson
Age: 21, Midfield, Irish
The story so far MP Gibbo has been with us a while and floated in and out of the squad. But this season he’s made an adjustment in mental and physical terms and seems at home within the first-team group.
Distinguishing features RM He has similar attributes to Michael Carrick – he’s a good passer – both simple and penetrative – and makes good runs into the box. He’s a big, strong lad – and an Irish international now.
The future MP His first goal [against Southampton] will have done him the world of good. All the hard work you’ve put in and all your dreams and aspirations together in that one instant. Once you’ve done it, you want to do it again and you can see that desire in Darron.

Danny Welbeck
Age: 18, Striker, English
The story so far MP Danny has come right through the ranks here.
Distinguishing features MP He’s really improved on the skills side and technically and tactically he’s much better. He’s also filled out a bit more. His goal against Stoke was a great strike, but it was good to see his opportunism against Southampton in the FA Cup. It’s important to score those types of goals.
The future RM Danny needs to train with the first team all the time and know what it’s like to be up against defenders like Rio and Vida. He’ll keep developing and, if he stays fit, he’s certainly got the qualities to be a regular.

Jonny Evans
Age: 21, Centre-half, Northern Irish
The story so far Mike Phelan (MP) Jonny’s loan spells at Sunderland (two five-month periods in 2006/07 and 2007/08) exposed him to regular first-team football, which allowed him to get his training and mentality right. When he came back, we really felt he had the potential to be a first-teamer – I think our judgement has been proved right.
Distinguishing features MP He’s tall and solid, has good mental strength, a strong work ethic and is very intelligent with his positional play. He’s also technically very good with the ball at his feet and complements both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. He’s equally comfortable playing with either, which is fantastic.
The future Rene Meulensteen (RM) The manager has no hesitation picking him when needed – if he stays fit and keeps improving, he has plenty of good years ahead of him.

Age: 18, Right-back, Brazilian
The story so far MP Rafa’s been a breath of fresh air. I think everyone realises he has potential to be a fabulous footballer and he already has a very good rapport with the fans.
Distinguishing features RM What I like about Rafa is he’s not fazed; he’s athletic, quick and very positive. He’s got good skills, good technique and there’s a goal or two in him, as you saw against Arsenal!
The future RM He has to learn when it’s best to close down, or hold back and stay with the other defenders as a unit. Then there’s your selection of passes – not always looking for the obvious ball, trying to penetrate…. Providing he keeps working hard and keeps cool when all the media attention is on him, I think he’s got a very bright future.

Age: 18, Left-back, Brazilian
The story so far RM Another good prospect. He was probably a bit more advanced than Rafael when they arrived, but he’s had a setback with his shoulder injury. Hopefully he can follow in his brother’s footsteps.
Distinguishing features RM He’s naturally right-footed, but very comfortable at left-back. Both brothers come from a different football culture, in which full-backs play a more advanced role. I and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] did some work with them on positional play and looked at how, over here, a back four plays as more of a unit.
The future MP We want to see Fabio produce the form that made us bring him to the club and, given time, I think we can all be excited by what he’ll produce.

Rodrigo Possebon
Age: 19, Midfield, Brazilian
The story so far MP Rodrigo’s another who seems to have struck up an affiliation with the crowd and already has his own song! He’s now showing in training he can compete on a regular basis with the first teamers. It’s not all about playing games, it’s about being able to train seven days a week at the same intensity.
Distinguishing features MP He’s got good physique, good feet and excellent positional awareness. He has a presence about him.
The future RM Rodrigo needs to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you flit back and forth between the first team and the Reserves. That’s not always easy. He can improve on the tempo of his game – things don’t always need to happen at 100mph. I always tell him to watch Scholesy and try to add the things he has to his own game.
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