Manchester United rookie Danny Simpson admits he is living a dream just now. The Salford-born full-back feared the worst when his first senior start for United ended up in a shock Carling Cup defeat to Coventry. It was a loss which forced Sir Alex Ferguson into a U-turn on his policy to keep all the Red Devils' young stars at Old Trafford, rather than loan them out as has been his practice in recent seasons.
However, almost immediately, the Scot made it clear Simpson, who spent periods at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland last term, would not be among those departing. Instead, the 20-year-old has remained with the club he has supported all his life. And, after making his Premier League debut against Wigan immediately before the international break, Simpson was handed his first experience of Champions League combat during Tuesday night's 4-2 triumph over Dynamo Kiev in the Ukraine.
In between, he was an unused substitute at Aston Villa. An update on the fitness of Paul Scholes, who had a scan on a knee problem on Wednesday and Patrice Evra, who pulled out of the Kiev win after suffering a calf strain in the warm-up, is not expected until Friday.
But with injuries continuing to bite deep into Ferguson's resources, it would now be a surprise if Simpson was not involved in some capacity as United look to leapfrog Arsenal and reach the top of the table by beating Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Saturday.
I can't quite believe what is happening at the moment,'' said Simpson. ``I just seem to be walking around with a big smile on my face all the time. ``After the Coventry game, I was worried and disappointed just like everyone else.
``I did have a chat with the manager but he has shown a lot of faith in me, which is a big boost for my confidence.'' That Simpson survived the post-Coventry cull - when fellow right-back Phil Bardsley did not - says something in itself, although the fact Roy Keane was desperate to have the player back at Sunderland this season following their promotion to the top flight was a clear indication of his talent.
And, while it would have been easy for Simpson to dwell on what went wrong against Coventry, instead he adopted a more positive approach, which seems to be paying dividends. ``Everyone suffers disappointments,'' he reflected. ``It is part of football.
The best thing to do was get over it quickly, keep working hard and then see what develops from there. ``You have to forget about these things. If you dwell on them, it just means your next performance will probably be poor as well, which is the last thing you need. It is better to get it out of your system, so the day after the game was the last day I spent worrying about it.''
Now fully recovered from a double hernia operation, Simpson knows he could be one of the major beneficiaries should United seal their place in the knock-out phase of the Champions League with two games to spare by beating Dynamo in the return clash at Old Trafford on November 7.
Victory would enable Ferguson to use fringe players in the final matches against Sporting Lisbon and Roma, in the Stadio Olimpico, offering priceless experience Simpson knows he could not get anywhere else. ``A minute playing for United is worth 10 anywhere else,'' he said. ``The experience I am gaining now will go a long way to helping me in the future. ``I feel really good at the moment. The manager knows I am there if he needs me and I am chuffed to bits at the fact he is using me.''