Manchester

Four Manchester United players facing make-or-break period in their seasons

For Manchester United's cohort of players with an eye on the World Cup later this year, it made for particularly interesting reading.

Oddly, of the Old Trafford quartet who are in the discussion for a spot at the Qatar tournament, the two who have lost their place in the United team were the ones to make the cut for games against Italy and Germany later this month.

The inclusion of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw came as a head-scratcher to many given they have both lost their place in United's Premier League line-up over recent weeks. In stark contrast their teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been in good form for Erik ten Hag's side, with six goals and two assists between them.

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Yet neither were included in the 28-man squad chosen by England boss Gareth Southgate. An unfortunately-timed injury did for Rashford whereas Sancho was simply overlooked this time.

Justifying his latest selections, Southgate threw both players a lifeline saying: “There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time. But that said, it doesn't mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren't involved.”

The aforementioned quartet now face a make-or-break October in what is fast becoming a relentless schedule, owing to recent postponements.

United are slated to play nine matches inside just 29 days. Ten Hag will no doubt be rotating his squad which presents Maguire and Shaw a perfect chance to justify their inclusion. As for Rashford and Sancho, they will be hoping for a continuation of their early season form as they look to force Southgate's hand.