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The Northern Irishman, who also began his Old Trafford first-team career as a teenager, is delighted with what he's seen of the Italian so far...

Manchester United striker Federico Macheda has impressed one former Red Devil with his debut goal against Aston Villa in United's 3-2 victory on Sunday.

Norman Whiteside, a combative attacking midfielder for United in the 1980's - who won two FA Cup winners' medals and a hatful of Northern Ireland caps whilst at Old Trafford, as well as making his debut in the 1982 World Cup at the age of 17 - thinks that the 17-year-old Italian has all the necessary qualities to succeed in the Premier League.

"I was impressed by Macheda. He has a presence first and foremost and looks physical with a good touch as well," Whiteside told the Manchester Evening News.

"You should not compare him with anyone, not Ruud van Nistelroy or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, people used to compare me with George Best but that's because we both came from Belfast!

"Giggs got the same because he was a dribbler and made his debut so young. What I like about Macheda is that little bit of devilment like Roy Keane. Rooney has got it as well and it can be an asset.

"He has good potential, of course he has. To be able to score a superb goal in front of 75,000 people shows he is not frightened. Like most footballers he comes from a working-class background and that makes him hungry for success.

"Ole [Solksjaer] will have seen him, of course, as the reserve team manager many times. He has played 16 games and scored 10 at that level which was something like my record. He doesn't seem frightened at all because he has a good physique. I remember putting it about against players like Terry Butcher and that just didn't bother me.

"What will happen is that when he first starts the opposition won't know what to expect and the real test comes in the second season. That's when the real challenge comes."

Whiteside does have one word of warning for Macheda though, and insists that he must pay attention when a certain Scotsman is talking at the club.

"I was on £16 a week when I made my debut, also as a substitute coming on for 12 minutes at Brighton and we won 1-0. I took things in my stride," the Ulsterman added.

"Big Ron Atkinson was the manager who gave me my chance, he just used to let you get on with it whereas Fergie, who I was with for two and a half years at Old Trafford, had a much more personal approach. Everything is different now.

"My advice is there is no-one better to listen to and take advice from than the manager Alex Ferguson.

"He should listen to him and to the older pros who will take him under their wings and he should not get carried away by all the publicity. I saw one paper give five pages on him and he's only scored one goal."

Zack Wilson, Goal.com

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