ON his shock Manchester United debut Charlie McNeill joined forces with his idol Cristiano Ronaldo in front of 74,310 at Old Trafford.  On his Newport County AFC debut he got clattered by a Swindon elbow in front of 4,324.

Both will shape the 19-year-old’s future in different ways, the striker got a taste of the big time in the Europa League clash with Real Sociedad in September and intends to make it at Old Trafford with the help of a spell in League Two.

McNeill aims to have a strong six weeks with the Exiles to cap a dream season that could end with a medal courtesy of his brief cameo alongside a legend in a 1-0 defeat if the Red Devils go all the way in Europe.

“I’ve always loved Ronaldo since he first played for United before going to Real Madrid,” said the Manchester born and raised Red, who was also an unused sub against FC Sheriff.

“I just loved him and fortunately enough I got to make my debut and was playing up front with him. That was just surreal, a dream come true.

“I thought I was getting close [to a debut] a couple of times and then the new manager [Erik ten Hag] came in and I’d been training really well.

“He saw that and put me in the squad but I didn’t think that I would come on because we were getting beaten 1-0. He put me on and I was just buzzing to play in front of 75,000.”

McNeill has a year left on his current contract with the Red Devils and is fair to assume that a fresh deal will be offered such are his scoring exploits in age-grade football.

However, he is now playing regularly in games that really matter courtesy of his deadline day move to Newport.

McNeill went out for a first loan spell with a County side that were in danger of a League Two relegation scrap but has played his part in the move clear of trouble.

South Wales Argus: LEARNING: County loanee Charlie McNeillLEARNING: County loanee Charlie McNeill (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I wanted to come out on loan to get experience in men’s football and coming here and having played 11 games already so far it has been a massive learning curve,” he said.

“I've learned a lot in just 11 games, it’s been really good and I am just excited to kick on for the last nine, I can’t wait.

“It has been tough physically but I’ve really enjoyed that, going up against defenders, challenging for headers, the ugly side of the game that I really need to work on.

“I don’t mind that and in the first game I got one right to the back of my head and the defender was like ‘welcome to League Two’!

“I am really grateful for this because a lot of players don’t get to go out on loan until a couple of years down the line.”

McNeill is learning his trade but there are great expectations on any player that has ‘on loan from Manchester United’ in brackets after their name.

“I personally think United is the biggest club in the world so if you go out on loan you’ve always got eye on you and people are expecting big things,” he said.

“That can be tough because people expect a lot of me but it’s my first loan. I do want to show what I am about as well because I know I am a good player.”

And he did just that at Tranmere a fortnight ago when he finally broke his County duck after going close on a number of occasions.

Cameron Norman should have scored with a close-range chance but was denied by the goalkeeper’s legs and the striker pounced for his first senior goal to make it 2-0 in a 3-1 win.

South Wales Argus: DELIGHT: Charlie McNeill celebrates scoring for Newport County at TranmereDELIGHT: Charlie McNeill celebrates scoring for Newport County at Tranmere (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It was everything that I've dreamt of. The feeling was just unbelievable with all the lads celebrating and congratulating me, and it was even better to get the win as well. It was just perfect,” he said.

“I was just buzzing and there was a bit of relief as well because I had come so close in past games. Now I’ve got it a feel more confident and that I can go on and score a couple more.”

McNeill is in frequent contact with United about work-ons but the learning isn’t just taking place on the training ground and pitch.

“Moving away from my family is something I’ve never done before,” said the youngster, who has been put up in a Cardiff apartment.

“I like it because I’ve always lived at home with my mum and dad and I’ve been fortunate that they have always done everything for me.

“I'm very grateful for that but I've obviously had to learn a lot while I've been away from home on my own… although I can’t say I am enjoying cleaning up dishes and everything but it’s something I’ve got to do and learn.”

County will hope for a tidy performance from their Manchester United prospect at Colchester on Saturday afternoon.