2 Man Utd Home-Grown Defenders Waiting in the Wings for First-Team Chance This Season

Ethan Laird has already played two first-team games for Man Utd
Ethan Laird has already played two first-team games for Man Utd | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams are both doubts for Manchester United’s must-win game on Thursday against Crystal Palace after suffering injuries in Monday’s draw with Southampton.

Shaw rolled his ankle in a painful looking incident, requiring a scan to assess the damage. Williams, meanwhile, needed stitches to close a gash on his head following an aerial challenge late on.

Luke ShawLuke Shaw
Luke Shaw suffered a painful ankle injury against Southampton | Pool/Getty Images

United have been performing well in recent weeks, but it is a reminder of the fragility of the squad looking ahead and highlights the increased possibility of more chances for youngsters between now and the end of the season as the club remains in three separate competitions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted at more opportunities for home-grown talents when speaking at a press conference last month. Where defenders are concerned, that particularly includes teenage pair Teden Mengi and Ethan Laird, both of whom have been training with the first-team.

Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe both remain injured, creating opportunities, especially now with extended benches of up to nine players allowed for the rest of this campaign.

Laird, who will turn 19 next month, is a right-back that has been on the fringes of the first-team all season. He has two senior appearances to his name already, both in the Europa League, and started the trip to Kazakhstan when United faced Astana in late November.

Teden MengiTeden Mengi
Teden Mengi has impressed at youth level | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Mengi only recently turned 18. He is still yet to make a first-team debut but was on the bench that night in Kazakhstan and is reported to have impressed United coaches with his speed.

Although a centre-back by trade, getting a senior opportunity in his favoured position while still so young seems unlikely. But he has featured at left-back at Under-23 level this season and his pace would lend itself to that role were Solskjaer to turn to now him in the coming days or weeks.

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