Erik ten Hag has two players who could be like new signings for Manchester United – George Smith

The trip to Goodison Park will be the first of 10 games that United must navigate their way through in the space of just 35 days, meaning they face a demanding conclusion to the year. Facing eight games in the Premier League and two in the Champions League, each chapter will be vitally important in shaping the club&aposs season.

18 games into this campaign, United have experienced more lows than highs, meaning Ten Hag will be determined to elevate their fortunes following the conclusion of this current international break. However, a lot of it may depend on the health of his squad.

United have been decimated by injury issues so far this season, with Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund the latest additions to what feels like a never-ending injury list. Eriksen is expected to be out for a month with a knee problem while his Danish counterpart is expected to return before the end of November.

The unprecedented injury crisis that United have faced has scuppered Ten Hag&aposs hopes of finding a settled rhythm, a settled team selection and, most importantly, consistency. The Reds&apos campaign, certainly so far, has had a stop-start feel to it.

Though the likes of Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Hojlund and Casemiro, three of whom are currently unavailable, are the leading names to have been missed at various junctures so far this term, the absence of Kobbie Mainoo, though his current status is not as grand, has also been felt.

The academy graduate was a shining light at the start of United&aposs pre-season campaign, starting each of their opening four friendlies. It was in their fourth friendly, though, that his hopes of challenging for a starting berth come the opening weekend of the season were snatched away from him.

He suffered an ankle injury in the opening exchanges of United&aposs 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in Houston on July 27 and he has not played a single minute of first-team football since. However, he has been building up his minutes and match sharpness at youth level, while also being an unused substitute for each of United&aposs last three Premier League games.

Ten Hag&aposs decision to recall him to the first-team squad in recent weeks has suggested that he could be unleashed following the current hiatus. With Eriksen joining Casemiro on the sidelines, the door is ajar for him.

Such is the buzz and excitement that surrounds Mainoo, it is easily forgotten that he has made just three competitive appearances for United at senior level. His performances in pre-season, however, resembled those of a player much more advanced in their development.

It means Mainoo could be in line to store more opportunities under his belt in the coming weeks, albeit gradually after limited experience previously. Like everyone else, he has got to start somewhere.

The same can be said for Amad. Despite being three years Mainoo&aposs senior, he is still searching for his breakthrough moment at Old Trafford.

Signed from Atalanta in January 2021, the Ivorian, who has also been out injured since pre-season, has nine competitive appearances for the club to his name so far, all of which were secured prior to his glittering season-long loan spell at Sunderland. He joined the Black Cats in August 2022 a boy, and returned in the summer of 2023 a man. It was the making of him.

Ten Hag planned to give Amad the opportunity to prove himself at a higher level in pre-season, only for him to suffer a knee injury in the first game of the US tour. He has been stepping up his recovery in recent weeks and a return to full fitness is not thought to be too far away.

Should Amad soon regain full fitness and catch Ten Hag&aposs attention in training, he is worthy of being given an opportunity in his immediate plans. Antony has done nothing this season to warrant continuing to be selected on the right-wing, and Facundo Pellistri has struggled as a starter.

Furthermore, Amad, despite being at a lower level last season, has done more than the aforementioned duo over the last 12 months, scoring 14 goals and grabbing four assists at the Stadium of Light. He was the architect of their success last term.