Fletcher an example to Gibson
Darron Gibson must now take the Darren Fletcher route to a regular United berth after his two-goal Carling Cup success.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was the long- distance hero of the Reds' quarter-final victory against Spurs on Tuesday.
And former Republic and United striker Frank Stapleton believes the 22-year-old has the perfect example at United to fire his ambition.
"Darron cannot afford to stand still now or go backwards. He's got good potential and he has given himself a good chance," Frank told M.E.N. Sport.
"He's got ability, there is no doubt about that. But the question has been when is he going to make that step up and compete with the likes of Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes in United's midfield. Fletcher is a great illustration of someone who made that step up to another level.
"He used to be in a similar position to Darron when he was around the same age. He was considered one of the fringe players who got games in the domestic cup competitions.
"But Fletcher has taken the challenge by the scruff of the neck and is now one of the best midfield players in the country.
"Gibson has to start thinking the same way. The penny has to drop with him and he has to improve to a level where he is considered for Premier League and Champions League matches.
"He did his case no harm whatsoever against Tottenham on Tuesday night but that cannot be it. Does he want to be one of those only considered really for the Carling Cup or FA Cup, or does he want to be consistently in the running and selected for the league and Europe?
"There should be no going back for him now. He has set a standard with his overall play and goals against Spurs.
"After losing Cristiano Ronaldo's goals much has been said about more coming from midfield and he has proved he has it as a weapon. He's got to build on it.
"As a one-off match he has to be delighted with his performance. But the next question is can he force the manager to consider him ever week and can he do it regularly in the Premier League.
"I am sure he has the ambition and it is within his capabilities.
"He now has to make the manager sit up and take notice."
From his crisp strike at Southampton in the FA Cup third round last January that gave him his first senior goal, to his 20-yard volley at Derby County, his sensational long-range screamer at Hull on the final day of the season, to his two brilliant finishes against Spurs, Gibson has proved that he has an eye-catching technique for ball- striking.
"It is something of a lost art but Darron is reviving it," added Stapleton.
"He can strike a ball well and can hit it hard. It's a mixture of craft, control, placement and blockbusting power. It is a terrific weapon. Not many have that ability.
"But that is not all Darron has got. He's also a prompter in midfield as well.
"He's got to be encouraged by what he did against Spurs and now look to build on it."
Gibson, who was born in Derry but invoked the Good Friday Agreement to pursue his preference to play for the Republic of Ireland, should have more opportunities in the weeks to come to press his claim for a regular first-team berth.
Next week's Champions League trip to Wolfsburg is an obvious one, while Ferguson has already pledged to stick with Tuesday night's squad for the two-legged semi-final next month.
But once the Carling Cup campaign is over, Ferguson will have limited scope for experiment until the destination of this season's title is determined.
Little wonder, therefore, Gibson is putting everything into his work on the training ground, especially in the shooting department.
"We have been working all week in training on quick play and getting shots off around the box," he revealed.
"It paid off with those two goals."
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