Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted to one blunder he has made with a young player.

Fergie admits that he let Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross leave prematurely but has explained his reasons for allowing the 24-year old head to the Britannia Stadium from Old Trafford back in 2008.

"It always grieves me when I have to release a young player of great potential and Shawcross certainly fell into that category," Ferguson wrote in his programme notes quoted on United's official website "He had the misfortune - though he perhaps doesn't see it that way considering the success he has had with Stoke - of coming through along with a number of other young defenders.

"This was the era of Gerard Pique and we kept him at Ryan's expense, only I didn't know that Gerard was growing homesick and, soon after, he was telling us he wanted to go back to Spain.

"He has prospered with Barcelona, as we know, and, if I had known he wanted away then, we would have kept Ryan Shawcross."

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