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Luke Shaw’s issues at Manchester United have justified Erik ten Hag’s first gamble – Isaac Johnson

He remains a doubt for the Europa League trip to Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday, a game he surely would feature in but for his setback. He was possibly in line for his third outing of the season in last weeks 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad, but for his ill-timed injury.

Shaw hasnt been seen in first team action since desperately tracking back in vain for Brentfords fourth first-half goal in last months rout. Tyrell Malacia has kept him out of the team ever since his half-time introduction against the Bees.

Shaw s international career peaked when he smashed home Englands Euro 2020 final goal more than a year ago. But a season of hardship at United followed and now he is at risk of losing his Three Lions starting spot too.

Persistent injuries have stunted his consistency for both club and country. Its something Erik ten Hag would have looked at upon arriving at Old Trafford.

Its no coincidence his first signing was left-back Malacia when at the time United had Shaw, Brandon Williams, Alex Telles and Alvaro Fernandez at their disposal in that position. He gave Shaw a chance though, playing him against Brighton and Brentford at the start of the season.

But it's clear that Malacia is more adept at carrying out Ten Hags wishes for his full-backs. Thats not to say the Dutch defender is always free from injury either.

He picked up two problems himself last season at Feyenoord. But he was out for just two matches, much fewer than the 15 Shaw missed last term through injury.

Ten Hag will not completely do away with Shaw though hes decided to offer him an extra year on his contract, which currently expires in the summer. The defender would be silly to turn this down, and theres no reason why he would; he can still win his place back.

But its been proven that the new United manager was right to acquire Malacia. He has kept three clean sheets this season when the 45-minute shutout against Brentford is counted – Shaw failed to earn one in either of his outings this term.

But more to the point, if United are to steal a top four spot this season, they cannot afford for a key defender to be constantly unavailable through injury.

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