Talking Point: Who replaces Shaw at left-back?
With Luke Shaw ruled out for the next month with a hamstring injury, what options does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have at left-back?
Our no.23 has started each of our seven Premier League games so far, but picked up an issue during the weekend’s 3-1 win over Everton, meaning he needed to be replaced by Axel Tuanzebe.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Shaw was likely to miss our next six games in all competitions – West Brom, Southampton and West Ham in the top-flight, and Istanbul Basaksehir, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig in the Champions League.
Luke will be a miss both defensively and going forward, having provided assists for Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes in consecutive games.
On Facebook, fans were quick to share their well wishes for the 25-year-old.
“Make a speedy recovery Luke, you will be missed. Most consistently good player in the back four this season!” said Sandra Brierley.
“Get well soon Luke. Was improving his attacking with two assists in two games. It's great we have squad depth. Telles to Cavani: loading soon!” added Dave Robinson.
On that note, while Shaw’s absence will be disappointing, let’s run through the players who could come in to replace him, starting with our new man…
Shaw’s injury opens the door for the 27-year-old, who has featured just once since signing for United at the beginning of last month. That’s more down to bad luck than anything – Telles was fantastic when playing at left wing-back during the 2-1 win over PSG at the Parc des Princes, but soon after tested positive for COVID-19.
That diagnosis meant he had to sit out each of our next five games, but the Brazilian has been selected for his national side’s upcoming matches against Venezuela and Uruguay. While club managers often see mid-season international football as something of a distraction to their wider plans, game-time for Telles in South America could be useful, with a busy December on the horizon.
That return fixture against PSG could also prove crucial to our hopes of reaching the knockout stages and, if Ole decides on a back three once again, there’s no more fitting candidate for the left flank than the man who performed so admirably there three weeks ago.
On international duty Gallery
Seven photos of our players putting in that WORK with their national teams.
Should Ole decide that six fixtures in just over a fortnight is too much to ask of Telles, Brandon Williams may come into his thinking, at least for a game or two.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a cracking debut campaign with United in 2019/20, making 17 Premier League appearances in total, much of them during a fixture-packed winter period while Shaw was injured, in fact. He’s yet to play in the top-flight this season, but after games in the Carabao Cup and the Under-23s, would surely be ready if called upon.
Brandon is the subject of this week’s UTD Podcast, and talks in-depth about overcoming what he perceived as a talent gap to make it into the first-team picture.
‘I was jealous of Greenwood and Garner!’Video
What about the man who helped United see out Saturday’s win? Axel was the only defender we could call upon from the bench on Merseyside, meaning he had to fill in at left-back for Shaw for the final 20 minutes or so.
While Tuanzebe has carved out a reputation as a promising young centre-back, his versatility has been clear to see during his short time in United’s first team. Our no.38 played at right-back and in defensive midfield during the 2016/17 campaign, while he racked up a full 90 minutes on the left side of defence when Arsenal visited Old Trafford in September 2019.
Axel’s best position may be in the middle of a back three or four, but it cannot be denied he is an option for Ole if Telles and/or Williams become unavailable for whatever reason.
ANOTHER POSSIBLE OPTION?
Marcos Rojo is yet to make a senior appearance this season, but the Argentina international is eligible to play in the Premier League (he isn't in the Champions League squad).
The versatile defender recently improved his fitness with an appearance for our Under-23s and could come into the manager's thinking after the international break.