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Erik ten Hag must provide FA Cup chance for Manchester United wildcard option vs Wigan



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Manchester United face Wigan Athletic away in the FA Cup third round on Monday evening, and Erik ten Hag will likely be making changes to his team.

The Reds have not played since their defeat to Nottingham Forest on 30 December and will be hoping to start 2024 on a different note in the only cup competition they remain in.

Ten Hag could have the option of including Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez in the matchday squad after both have spent the week ahead of the game in full first-team training.

However, instead, the manager should be looking to involve 19-year-old Willy Kambwala in his backline amidst the injury troubles suffering in central defence so far this term.

Raphael Varane, Martinez, Victor Lindelof, and Harry Maguire have all spent prolonged periods on the sidelines due to injuries, and Kambwala was on hand to make his debut against West Ham last month alongside Jonny Evans.

Whilst the game ended in defeat, the academy defender provided a decent account of himself and also impressed when coming off the bench late on in United’s latest victory against Aston Villa.

Ten Hag will need to find a balance in his starting team to face the League One outfit, as he does not want to even think about the possibility of there being a famous FA Cup upset.

Yet, Kambwala could be needed going forward in the season, even though there are only two competitions to play for.

After holding his own in Premier League fixtures, a further test in the cup competition would be beneficial to the defender and prepare him for more minutes going forward if needed.

“He makes a good impression in training and during under-21 games,” said Ten Hag after the West Ham fixture. “So we decided to play him, and as we’ve seen, I think we have seen many skills for a modern centre-back.”