Axel Tuanzebe is now Manchester United’s third choice centre-back after returning from a successful season-long loan spell at Aston Villa.
The 21-year-old impressed during the pre-season tour, and is clearly highly-rated by boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be selected on the bench in the Premier League ahead of more senior figures in Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
Tuanzebe is currently behind Victor Lindelof and new signing Harry Maguire in the central defensive pecking order. The pair are beginning to form a promising partnership at the back, but there are concerns amongst some United fans that Lindelof is not physical enough, after making two separate mistakes in the opening games of the season.
Lindelof was beaten easily in the air for Jannik Vestergaard’s equaliser for Southampton on Saturday, prompting some Reds to suggest Tuanzebe should already be given his chance in the Premier League under Solskjaer.
In a Q and A session for fans, Whitwell said it seems ‘certain’ that Tuanzebe will be given his first chance to start a competitive game this season in the League Cup against Rochdale.
The game takes place on the 25th September, and will give the academy graduate an opportunity to prove to Solskjaer why he is ready to step up, albeit against League One opposition.