Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has called British talents Ben Woodburn and Marcus Rashford 'fantastic', but claimed that fans must 'let them breathe' in order to achieve their potential.
Speaking to BT Sport, Ferdinand also dismissed comparisons between the two players and his fellow pundit and former England teammate Michael Owen, who burst onto the scene as a teenager in the late 90s.
“You can’t compare these young boys nowadays to what Michael Owen was doing,” Ferdinand insisted.
“We mentioned it before the [Stoke] game: when he [Owen] was the same age as Rashford, he’d won two golden boots in the Premier League and scored 50 goals. Rashford has got 20."
Owen - who won the Ballon d'Or in 2001 - scored 150 goals in 326 appearances with Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke and netted 40 times for England.
Ferdinand even called it 'disrespectful' to make comparisons between Rashford, Woodburn and the likes of Owen and Wayne Rooney, but admitted that the two teenagers have the chance to become special players.
“I get frustrated because people forget, they forget too quickly what certain players are doing. When [Owen] came on, same with Wayne Rooney, when he burst onto the scene, you don’t get those players very often," Ferdinand added.
“Listen, they’ve got potential. Ben Woodburn has got huge potential, he looks like a fantastic talent. Marcus Rashford, I love. I think he’s going to go on and be a fantastic player. But right now, let them breathe.”
17-year-old Woodburn became Liverpool's youngest ever scorer last season when he netted against Leeds in the EFL Cup and has shown for the Wales senior side in recent games.
Rashford, meanwhile, is the youngest English player to score in a senior international match and has two strikes to his name this season as Man Utd remain unbeaten.