Lofty ambition at Manchester United dictates that big money must be spent on proven international performers to keep the club competitive on domestic and European fronts.
There is, however, an expectation at Old Trafford that a proud tradition of youth development will be upheld and a steady stream of home-grown talent fall off the academy conveyor belt into the senior ranks.
Jose Mourinho has, despite concerns to the contrary, sought to embrace that mindset since inheriting the Red Devils reins, with the Portuguese prepared to offer opportunities to those deemed deserving.
Ethan Hamilton is the latest youngster to be drafted into the first-team fold, with an untimely illness suffered by Paul Pogba ahead of an FA Cup clash with Huddersfield seeing the Scottish starlet presented with his big break.
Who is Ethan Hamilton?
Born in Edinburgh on October 18, 1998, Hamilton’s first tentative steps down a footballing path were taken at local boys club Hutchison Vale.
Like Darren Fletcher before him, his early potential was noted by United and he was offered the opportunity to join the Old Trafford youth system at the age of 16.
John Thorburn, the Red Devils scout who first caught sight of Hamilton back in 2010, told the Scotsman on an aspiring talent: “He’s got a chance, like anyone else, but there’s such a long way to go.
“Everybody understands how difficult it is from joining at 16 to getting in the first team. The most important thing for United is that he listens, learns and grows up.
“They would just be very keen that he makes a living out of football and becomes a decent human being. That’s why they’ve got in excess of 140 players playing in England’s four divisions.
“Very few clubs outside the Premier League don’t have players who have been at United.”
What position does Ethan Hamilton play?
Hamilton has already earned comparisons to United legend Roy Keane as a midfield enforcer prepared to sit deep and break up play.
In the modern era, his game could be compared to that of Nemanja Matic, with his rangy physique seeing him cut from the same cloth as the classy Serb.
A keen swimmer and basketball player in his younger years, Hamilton is an athletic presence in the middle of the park who has already seen his composure widely heralded.
He is two-footed with a powerful shot in his armoury – much like Matic and Keane – while his versatility means that he is capable of filling in at full-back if required.
United have already seen him skipper their U18 side, before being fast-tracked to the reserve set-up, and he will be hoping to make his senior bow before too long - having previously been linked with a loan switch to Glasgow giants Rangers.
What number does Ethan Hamilton wear?
Having been offered a surprise call-up by Mourinho once Pogba was laid low, Hamilton was handed the No. 48 jersey.
Fellow academy graduates Zachary Dearnley and Will Keane have previously filled that shirt, with the latter having gone on to make three first-team appearances before linking up with Hull City on the back of several loan spells.
How much potential does Ethan Hamilton have?
Hamilton has been included in Scotland youth squads and will hope that further recognition at Old Trafford will eventually lead to senior caps with his country.
Ricky Sbragia, who is coach of both the Scotland U19 side and United’s 23 squad, has said of an exciting prospect: “He’s a talent, there’s no doubt about it.
“He’s box to box. He’s got a great physique and technically he’s very good. He knows the game. The great thing for me is that he is happy down there. His accommodation is good, he wants to learn, his education has been good. His mother is down there living with him. So in general he’s in a good place.
“He’s definitely got a chance at Man United. He’ll be given an opportunity, he’s also played for the under-23s there. When I phoned him and asked him to come to Andorra for the [Scotland] qualifying campaign he was over the moon. I’d seen him four or five times and was hoping he would say yes and was delighted when he did."
Sbragia added: “He said his inspiration is Darren Fletcher and Fletch is everything you want a footballer to be. He came and played for the reserves when I was there and it wasn’t a problem.
"He’s a great example and I think he has spoken to him as well when he first came down. If you ever want to model yourself on someone as a pro, it would be Darren.”