Erik: Kambwala can stake his claim

Sunday 07 April 2024 20:10

Willy Kambwala has the chance to promote his claims in the Manchester United side and build on his impressive outing against Liverpool.

The young centre-back made his second Premier League start in the 2-2 draw with the Merseysiders, after also being in the XI for the defeat at West Ham United before Christmas, and performed ably alongside the resolute Harry Maguire, making one excellent tackle on Darwin Nunez and gesturing to the Stretford End afterwards to gee up the crowd.

It was a display full of promise from the 19-year-old, who joined the Academy from Sochaux in 2020, and manager Erik ten Hag feels he can continue to prove his worth, with Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw all sidelined due to injury.

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Although Casemiro is an option to drop deeper into the backline, Kambwala has enhanced his prospects with his accomplished performance on the big stage.

"I don't think, at this short notice, they will return," Ten Hag said of Evans and Varane during his post-match press conference. "The decision to bring Willy in is because he has been a long time training with us and, in his first game against West Ham United, he also did very well, his progress is amazing.

"During training, we didn't have any doubts and, for instance, we could have also brought Casemiro down and then bring another midfielder in.

"We were convinced he could do the job and he has done brilliant," Erik continued. "I am very pleased, very happy and it is another signal and message of the future of Manchester United.

"This team, the squad has high potential and if we get more players available, especially in the backline, where we have 27 different organisations, across the season, then the future will be very good."

In a separate interview with the BBC, the manager added: "Now it's the challenge for him to do it consistently because, in the coming weeks, they will not return, so many players.

"So it's a great opportunity for him. We have also other options. We can also bring Casemiro into a centre-half position. But I think, the choice for today, he absolutely deserved it and he showed it on the pitch."