Former Milk Cup “old boy” Lee Clark is playing a key role in helping two more immediate former players at the youth tournament make the step into the senior game.
Now Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison have discovered the goalscoring touch – and how!
Both were members of the Manchester United squad that won the 2009 international youth tournament in Northern Ireland.
Birmingham City boss Clark – who played for Newcastle United at the Milk Cup back in the eighties and helped make the draw along with Harry Redknapp in 2009, is so pleased with Lingard’s four-goal debut that he is keen to tie up the on-loan Manchester United midfielder on a longer deal.
Lingard scored all four in a 4-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday and Clark believes the 20-year-old’s remarkable introduction to Championship football may have helped their chances of extending the one-month deal.
“United want him in a team that’s doing well, and in helping us win, he ticked another box,” Clark told BBC WM.
“They want him to play as much as possible. And Jesse has clearly already taken a liking to us.
Morrison scored a stunning goal for West Ham last weekend and the midfielder believes that he has turned a corner after getting his professional career back on track and earning an England U-21 call-up.
The Manchester United academy graduate left Old Trafford on a sour note after a series of off-field antics – including a court appearance and FA fine – led to him being sold by Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, since joining the Upton Park outfit last year, Morrison has experienced his first taste of competitive league football on loan to Birmingham City and feels that this has helped him reform.
“The tables have turned now,” he told the club’s official website. “Two years ago, it was always bad stuff and negative but now, when I see it, it’s always good stuff.
“Obviously I have to thank Lee Clark for what he did for me at Birmingham last season and my family have also been there for me. At West Ham, they have helped me too since I’ve been back at the club.”
The 20-year-old has been in scintillating form for his side this season after establishing himself as part of the first-team squad, scoring three goals in seven games, including one on his full debut.
Such form has seen him handed his first call-up to Gareth Southgate’s Under-21s side for their European Championship qualifiers against San Marino and Lithuania and the midfielder expressed his delight at his start to the season.
“The season has been good so far for me personally. I think it’s gone well but, as a team, we haven’t got the points we should have got because we’ve deserved more from the games we’ve played.
“I didn’t expect to play a lot this season but from the start of the season I’ve been brought into the team and I thank the manager for that and just want to keep going.”