Man United FC

4-2-3-1: Erik ten Hag’s strongest available Manchester United XI as Luke Shaw targets return

The imminent return of Luke Shaw to Manchester United’s potential matchday squad against Everton is a significant morale boost for the entire club.

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Shaw, a standout performer for United last season, has been sidelined with a muscle injury since late August. His absence has been palpable, affecting both the defensive and offensive aspects of the team.

The left-back’s return is eagerly awaited, as he plays a crucial role in maintaining the team’s overall balance.

Last seen in action on August 19 in the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Shaw’s initial muscle issue triggered a series of defensive injuries for United.

Manager Erik ten Hag has been forced to make frequent defensive changes, dealing with the absence of key players like Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof, and Sergio Reguilon due to injuries or illnesses.

Despite ongoing injuries to Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, the situation is gradually improving, particularly with Shaw’s expected return.

If deemed fit to start against Everton, the focus will be on Ten Hag’s decision on Shaw’s position, considering the defender’s notable performances at center-back last season.

This decision may hinge on Ten Hag’s plans for Varane, who, despite being a regular in recent years, has started only one of the last six Premier League games.

Maguire’s recent form may secure his right-sided center-back position, leaving Varane to potentially play on the left side.

While the defensive department is shaping up with Shaw’s return, the midfield presents its own set of challenges.

With Christian Eriksen and Casemiro sidelined, two of the three midfield spots are open, with Bruno Fernandes being the only guaranteed starter.

Opting for an outright defensive midfielder, Sofyan Amrabat could secure the holding midfield role.

Given Casemiro’s likely absence until Christmas, this presents an opportunity for Amrabat to contribute to the team.

In the attacking midfield positions, Mason Mount, acquired during the summer for a significant fee, should be given the chance to establish himself.

Operating as the deep-lying No.8, Mount can fill the void left by Eriksen.

In the attacking lineup, Facundo Pellistri, who impressed during the international break, deserves a start on the right-wing over Antony.

Pellistri’s recent performances make him a more appealing choice.

Despite potential fitness concerns for Rasmus Hojlund, Anthony Martial could lead the attack, while Marcus Rashford, despite a goal drought, remains the preferred option on the left-wing.

Projected Manchester United XI with current available squad members: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Amrabat, Mount, Fernandes; Pellistri, Martial (Hojlund if fit), Rashford.

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