United defender Jonathan Spector will join Blackburn Rovers on loan until the end of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed.
The 18-year-old had a run of three games at left-back in August, but has only forced his way into the side twice since; against Crystal Palace and Fenerbahce – both times from the bench.
However, Spector has made huge strides in his 16 months at Old Trafford, and it is perhaps only the consistency shown by new arrival Gabriel Heinze that has limited his first-team opportunities.
Ferguson believes a loan move to Ewood Park for the remainder of the campaign will make the American defender, from Arlington Heights, Illinois, mentally and physically stronger.
"We feel that Jonathan is the type that needs that challenge now," confirmed Fergie. "He is very close to first-team level. The challenge of going out on loan will test him and bring him on that bit further."
Meanwhile, fellow defender Paul McShane has joined Walsall on a month-long loan much to the delight of Saddlers' boss Paul Merson.
"I'm very pleased that Paul has agreed to join us," he said. "He is a strong, combative and enthusiastic player who can play in the centre of defence or at right-back.
"Manchester United think very highly of him and I've got no worries throwing him into the team."
Very good move for Spector. I think he'll be a first-teamer when he comes back.
Paul McShane is a bit further off the first-team, but he's a good, agressive centre-back and it will be interesting to see how he does.