September 10, 2019
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly sweating on the fitness of five players ahead of the Premier League fixture against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial have all missed being involved for their countries due to illness and injury.
Shaw was injured in the first have of the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace almost three weeks ago with Martial ending up injured late on in the same match. Both have thigh injuries. Shaw is a big doubt for the upcoming matches. Pogba has an ankle injury and had taken some time out during the international break, so could be back in the team.
Lingard and Wan-Bissaka both withdrew from the England squad for the matches against Bulgaria and Kosovo, Lingard due to illness and Wan-Bissaka due to a lower back problem. The former could be ready for this weekend’s fixture, the latter is still being assessed by the club and could be considered a major doubt.
To add to these absences, Solskjaer also has Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah, and Diogo Dalot on the sidelines, the latter recently travelling to China in order to overcome a hip problem. This has left the manager with a very small squad with one fullback, Ashley Young, to cover two positions should both Shaw and Wan-Bissaka be out of action this weekend.
There have been many calls over recent weeks for Solskjaer to boost his squad with talented youth players from the U23s, who have had a great start to their season, playing five matches, winning four, drawing once, scoring 15 goals and conceding just twice. The likes of Brandon Williams, James Garner, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes should be tested.
If Williams was given the opportunity at left-back, he would add pace and a good defensive mindset to the position and if given a fair chance in the position, putting little pressure on Shaw to recover from his injury, it could bring the best of both players over the coming months with a battle for a starting place in the team.
Gomes should be given a good crack of the whip, helping to solve the lack of creativity in the squad, which has been seen in the three matches which followed the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford at the start of the 2019/20 season. I would imagine that Gomes could have a better output than Lingard, looking at what he did at various youth levels.
Garner could be a better option than Nemanja Matic with his calmness and composure on the ball, not to mention his ability from long-range and the fact that he’s scored four goals, assisting another at U23 level this season, playing in four of the fives matches played. Looking at youth should be something Solskjaer does to solve problems like this.
Tahith Chong has not really played a lot of football this season, playing twice for the U23s, scoring twice and assisting another goal. He has played for the first team under Solskjaer but has not lit the world on fire, which will come after he has settled in. Instead of relying on the same players who have let the club down, youth could solve problems.