Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has told out-of-favour defender Luke Shaw he must earn his chance in the first team.
The former Southampton left-back has become a distant figure at Old Trafford this season, playing in just seven Premier League games.
His last league appearance came in October last year and the £30million acquisition has seen his form and fitness questioned on numerous occasions since joining the Manchester club back in 2014.
However, Mourinho has refused to completely shut the door on Shaw, and the Portuguese boss has urged the 23-year-old to fight for his United future.
“He has to work and wait,” he explained. “Against Watford I wanted one defender on the bench and the defender is someone who can play in more than one position.
“(Matteo) Darmian can play left-back, right-back and an emergency central defender for us so my choice was Darmian.
“The only thing I can say is that Luke is working well. He doesn’t have any problem and he is working well. He is fighting hard. There is no problem with him. He is fighting hard.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho believes that his side’s top four hopes could be in tatters thanks to an enforced break from Premier League action.
The Red Devils now have four cup games in a row, one of which is the Capital One Cup final against Southampton at the end of February.
During that time, Mourinho fears that their league rivals will pick up the points to leave his United side trailing behind.
“They will leave us. The other teams will have points so, for sure, it’s going to happen,” he said.
“That’s the way it is. I don’t think it is easy, because you want to play the competition, but at the same time we have motivation.
“Our situation isn’t easy. But we have to enjoy it, because it’s to play football, it’s to play important matches.”