Erik ten Hag has been forced into a couple of changes for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion, with captain Harry Maguire dropping out of the side due to suspension.
Maguire endured a tough evening in Seville earlier this week and with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane both on the sidelines, Ten Hag has called upon Luke Shaw to put a shift in at centre-back.
It’s a role that Shaw has played earlier this season and the England international impressed in his handful of appearances there just after the turn of the year.
Bruno Fernandes has returned to the side after missing the trip to Seville and Jadon Sancho has been dropped. Anthony Martial starts despite picking up what looked like a knee injury in Spain.
Speaking ahead of the game, the manager has explained some of the thinking behind his decision to name his line-up for the highly anticipated semi-final at Wembley.
“It doesn’t matter who plays, we have to win. Of course, it’s important when you have quality players, they can make a difference, all three,” Ten Hag is quoted as saying on the official Manchester United website.
“No [concerns about Shaw]. I think it’s the first time this partnership with Victor [is used] but he knows what to do.
“I think we prepared it very well. They know how to connect with each other to anticipate certain actions of Brighton, so I have faith in it. So it is the right solution.”
A win over Brighton would seal a mouthwatering Wembley final against cross-city rivals Manchester City and as things are developing, United may have to stop their neighbours from equalling their historic treble record themselves.
On the pitch, Ten Hag’s decisions are understandable. Fernandes is the heartbeat of the side and was always going to return whilst dropping Sancho comes as no surprise.