Luke Shaw is in contention for only his second appearance of the season when Manchester United face Swansea in Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup meeting live on Sky Sports.
The left-back became the world’s most expensive teenager when he joined United from Southampton in 2014 for £30m, but he has fallen out of favour under Jose Mourinho.
So what’s gone wrong for Shaw? And is he running out of opportunities to impress his manager? We asked Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper for the lowdown.
What’s going on?
The difficult thing for Shaw is that he picked up his last major injury in the home game against Swansea in April, which put him out of Jose’s plans for the summer and this season. It was unfortunate timing, but he has been fit for a while, there’s no doubt about that.
He is fourth or maybe even fifth choice left-back and yet he was brought to the club as the world’s most expensive teenager and the most expensive player in his position. It’s clear that things have broken down since then.
Shaw has not played at all apart from a substitute appearance against Burton Albion and Mourinho clearly has a problem with him.
What’s Mourinho’s issue?
What Jose says to us all the time when we ask about Shaw is that he has to work, so clearly he thinks he’s not working hard enough.
I’m not sure whether that just refers to applying himself in training or whether it is more holistic, meaning he needs a better approach to everything.
I think one of the biggest problems for Shaw is that it might take him 10 games to show his best form. Mourinho believes he can’t take that risk – despite the possible rewards.
Has Shaw stepped out of line?
He has always been respectful. He hasn’t complained behind the scenes or said anything out of line in the press.
He hasn’t said very much on social media, but all his comments have been positive when he has been involved in the first-team squad.
Clearly, he is not doing what Jose wants him to do, but the other side of it is that Luke feels he has been respectful and that he has been doing his best to get back into his plans.
Swansea vs Man Utd
October 24, 2017, 7:30pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass What’s happened with the U23s?
Shaw has made several appearances for Manchester United’s U23s and his bleakest hour came when he was played at centre-back in their game against Arsenal last month.
That said a lot about how far he has fallen. OK, they were short on numbers, but to play him there was fairly bleak for a young player who was so highly rated when he arrived at Old Trafford.
Other senior players have come back from injury and gone straight into the first team, so you can understand Luke thinking: ‘What am I doing playing for the U23s when I’m fit? And what am I doing playing at centre-back?’
That’s not an easy thing to get his head around.
It’s an interesting situation because if he starts against Swansea and plays well, he might have a chance to work his way back into Mourinho’s thoughts. If he is named on the bench, however, then in many ways the writing will be on the wall.
There’s no doubting that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is still a big fan of his, and I think Luke would like to play for him again as well. There is also a suggestion that Danny Rose might be on United’s agenda, so a player-plus-cash deal might be best for all parties concerned.
But there is also a feeling behind the scenes at Manchester United that you can’t just dispense with a kid who you spent so much money on. There is pressure from further up the food chain to persist with players like that rather than cutting them loose.
We’ll find out an awful lot more against Swansea. If he plays well it raises a major question for Mourinho, who is dealing with an injury crisis at the moment. Can he get back into the team? This game could be his best hope of turning things around.
Watch Swansea v Manchester United live on Sky Sports Football HD from 7.30pm