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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 14:26 GMT
Life after Man Utd
Former Manchester United trainees are now plying their trade in the Nationwide

Manchester United defeated Burnley 2-0 to reach the quarter-final of the Worthington Cup on Tuesday.

The team contained several youngsters who have come through the ranks - and with so many world-class players at the club it might be their only taste of first-team action.

United have produced dozens of footballers who have not quite made the grade at Old Trafford.

But there is a whole team of former United youngsters in the Nationwide who have gone on to prove that there is life after United.


Kevin Pilkington in action for Mansfield
Pilkington left Man Utd for Port Vale
Kevin Pilkington (Mansfield Town)
Pilkington had six years at United after joining as a trainee in 1992, during which time he made just six starts. He went on loan to Rochdale, Rotherham and Celtic before joining Port Vale.

The Hitchin-born goalkeeper then joined Wigan for six days before moving to Mansfield, whom he helped to promotion from Division Three last season.


John O'Kane (Blackpool)
O'Kane now plays his football under Steve McMahon at Bloomfield Road.

The right-back joined United in 1993 and in a day under five years at the club started just five games. While at United he boosted his first-team experience at Bury and Bradford before joining Premiership Everton for 400,000.

Spells at Bolton and Burnley followed before his tour of north-west clubs took him to Blackpool.

Colin Murdock (Preston North End)
Murdock spent exactly three years at Old Trafford before joining Preston in 1997 along with fellow-frustrated youngsters Michael Appleton and Jon Macken.

A reliable central defender who perhaps has a tendency to be caught flat footed, rejection from Old Trafford has not prevent him from winning 17 caps for Northern Ireland.

Ashley Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)
After a year at Old Trafford, Westwood joined Dario Gradi at Crewe and enjoyed three seasons at the Division One outfit, clocking up more than 100 appearances.

A move to Premiership Bradford followed before Westwood joined Wednesday permanently in September 2000.

Danny Higginbotham (Derby County)
Danny Higginbotham in action for Manchester United
Higginbotham cost Derby 2m
Higginbotham is extremely highly rated at either left-back or in the centre of defence - which perhaps explained why Derby paid 2m for him in July 2000.

Manchester-born Higginbotham spent three seasons at Old Trafford but competition was just too tough.

However, by the time he left for Derby in 2000 he had spent a season at United's feeder club Royal Antwerp honing his skills and has been an assured operator ever since.


Terry Cooke (Grimsby Town)
Hopes were high that tricky-winger Cooke might have a real impact and during his five years at United he was loaned to four clubs to gain valuable first-team experience.

Cooke eventually settled at rivals Manchester City but a bust-up with then-boss Joe Royle spelled trouble and loan periods at Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday and Grimsby followed.

The 26-year-old eventually signed permanently for The Mariners in July 2002.

Alex Notman (Norwich City)
Alex Notman making a rare appearance for Manchester United
Notman nearly won promotion with Norwich
Generally played up front, Notman can also be deployed in a deeper midfield role.

Unfortunately the queue for first-team places in midfield and attack at Old Trafford is lengthy and Notman made his full league debut on loan at Sheffield United.

Notman joined Norwich in November 2000 for 250,000 and almost made it back to the Premiership but the Canaries lost last season's Division One play-off final on a penalty shoot-out.

Phil Mulryne (Norwich City)
Mulryne is unusual in this list in that he actually started a Premiership fixture.

But that was as good as it got for the talented midfield who decided regular first-team football was required and joined Norwich for 500,000 in March 2001.

A talented ball player, Mulryne is an established Northern Ireland international and the lynchpin of the Canaries team.

Michael Twiss (Chester City)
Left-sided midfielder Twiss joined Port Vale after leaving United in 2000 and eventually dropped out of the league, signing for Leigh RMI.

Twiss is now part of the Mark Wright revolution at Chester City - the team are second in the table and pushing for a return to Nationwide League status.


David Healy (Preston North End)
The Northern Ireland international came close to the fringes of the Old Trafford first-team, even hitting a post in a Premiership game after coming on as a substitute.

But jumping a queue of proven internationals is not easy and a 1.5m transfer eventually took Healy to Preston.

With a natural eye for goal, the Northern Ireland international is highly rated by his current manager Craig Brown.

David Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
Of all the players in this list none are in better form that Forest striker Johnson.

David Johnson in action for Forest
Johnson is in blistering form for Nottingham Forest
The Jamaican-born striker has scored 20 goals already this season and is a prime reason why Forest are pushing for promotion to the Premiership.

But it has not always been a smooth ride for Johnson, who has suffered a chronic lack of confidence.

After a year at Old Trafford Johnson joined Bury, where his prolific form persuaded Ipswich to pay 1.1m.

A loss of form did not stop Forest paying 3m in January 2001 but it took loan spells at Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday before he finally rediscovered his top form.


And just to prove plenty of former United trainees are still operating in the Premiership.
Robbie Savage (Birmingham City)
Jonathan Greening (Middlesbrough)
John Curtis (Blackburn Rovers)
Ronnie Wallwork (West Bromwich Albion)
Michael Appleton (West Bromwich Albion)
Jon Macken (Manchester City)
Michael Gray (Sunderland)

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