Connect with us


Erik ten Hag must trust Manchester United’s kids in the FA Cup



| Last Updated:


Manchester United have had an injury crisis this season, and it does not look to be slowing down anytime soon.

On the eve of United‘s FA Cup 5th round tie against Nottingham Forest, Harry Maguire was ruled out of the game by manager Erik ten Hag, with Raphaël Varane and Bruno Fernandes both being labelled as doubtful on top of that.

Ten Hag will naturally have one eye on Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester Derby, a fixture United were beaten 6-3 in last season, and – particularly in the case of Varane – it would be unwise to risk the fitness of such key players at the City Ground ahead of one of United’s biggest games.

Read More: What happens in the Man United dressing room when Lisandro Martínez isn’t there

With Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all injured in the defensive department, the loss of Maguire and potential loss creates a selection headache for Erik ten Hag, with his only available senior defenders being Diogo Dalot, Jonny Evans, and Victor Lindelöf.

Last season, we saw Casemiro fill in at centre-back against Burnley in the EFL Cup, and Willy Kambwala has appeared for the first team on a few occasions now, but United are incredibly light at the back. The midfield is missing Mason Mount, as well as the doubt surrounding Fernandes – however, it would not be anybody’s surprise to see him pull through and start. In attack, the injury of Rasmus Højlund is a pain shared by the entire Manchester United fanbase.

It is a difficult moment for Erik ten Hag, and whilst fans likely see a lineup almost identical to the one on Sunday except for changes in the backline, it would be nice to see some fresh blood injected into the side through youth.

United’s academy is at its strongest point in years, and at times many have felt the youth have not been given sufficient opportunities under Ten Hag. Whilst it would not be advisable to throw a number of them into the deep end in such an important game – the FA Cup is United’s only hope of silverware this season – it would be good to see Ten Hag include a player like Kambwala once again from the start, and to see some fresh faces on the bench.

The left-back slot has been a big problem for United. Whilst Harry Amass has trained with the first team, it would be tough to put him into such an important game so early, especially against a team as physically powerful as Forest, but playing Kambwala at right-back could allow United to move Diogo Dalot to left back, where he has excelled many times for the club. Lindelöf has not looked a natural fit in the position at all, and it has clearly hindered United in and out of possession.

Habeeb Ogunneye is another player who has trained with the first team recently and, as of now, is physically more ready to play men’s football than Amass. A natural right back, he could be a solution for United as they navigate the current injury crisis. It is unlikely he will play, but it could be a risk worth taking.

The most likely option is that Sofyan Amrabat fills in at left-back, where he had some respectable performances earlier in the season, but it would be good to see Ten Hag trust some of his talented young players and give the future of the club a chance to develop and make their marks, in a competition synonymous with young talent breaking through.