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Luke Shaw trains before FA Cup final

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw trained with the first team ahead of the FA Cup final on Saturday. Shaw’s return to training is a massive step for the young Englishman after he broke his leg back in a Champions League match at PSV Eindhoven in the group stage of the tournament. It is highly unlikely that Shaw will play in the cup final, but his return to Carrington is a huge positive for Louis van Gaal’s men.

Since Shaw’s horrific injury in September, United’s left-back position has been up in the air. Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Matteo Darmian have been some of the replacements for Shaw in left back this season. This injury boost for United will be huge for next season. Having Shaw back in the team is extremely important for United next season because the backline will finally get the shape and lineup that Van Gaal attempted to put together. Shaw had a promising start, but the broken leg proved to be one of the biggest setbacks the Red Devils faced this season.

Van Gaal signed Shaw from Southampton in 2014 and added Darmian to the backline picture this past summer. The defense looked impenetrable at the start with Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Shaw and Darmian alongside one another with now three-time Manchester United Player of the Year David De Gea in goal. This defensive grouping started the 2015/16 season off well, but Shaw’s injury hindered Van Gaal’s plans. Shaw missed 10 months with this injury sustained in a nasty challenge by Mexican defender Hector Moreno, who went on to help PSV win that match. Just as it looked as though Shaw and United could be going far with this lineup, everything changed.

The 20-year-old has the potential to be one of the best in his position. Shaw can become a star at United, and even has a future with England if he is to get back to the speedy play that he showed prior to the injury. Shaw is a great talent, but it is right to worry if he will be able to return to the way he was before that dreadful night in the Netherlands. The once most expensive teenager in the world could be an instrumental piece to the puzzle next season for United no matter who is the manager. Van Gaal was the manager who brought over the rising star and if he is still the gaffer next season, Shaw could thrive for the Dutchman.

Shaw has speed. His quickness in attack can be lethal for opposition defenders. Bringing the ball up the wing with pace is a vital aspect of United’s playing style over the years, and with Shaw doing so on the left, United’s attack could be incredible. Shaw can also defend brilliantly. Tracking back using his pace gives United’s centre-backs less need to worry as he can recover after pushing up the pitch. Prior to the injury, Shaw defended well in standing challenges and was near enough perfect when sliding into contested balls. Fans can only hope that he is not timid when going into challenges because of the severe injury. 

It is concerning that with the severity of the injury that a young player like Shaw could be weary of making hard tackles in the future in fear of re-breaking his leg. If his confidence is shot, there will be big problems ahead for Shaw and United. The £30 million signing will be a great player one day, and he just has to remain positive that things will turn around for him. Shaw will not be at the Euros this summer for England and will most likely not feature on the weekend for United. Time is now on Shaw’s side and next season could be explosive for him.

Written by Shawn Medow

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