Ex-Manchester United left-back Denis Irwin thinks Luke Shaw will be given a chance in the position he believes is the team’s most competitive spot.
Shaw, 21, has started just four times since October and none of those have come in the Premier League, with boss Jose Mourinho instead choosing either Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind or Matteo Darmian instead as they compete across four fronts.
The England international was only named in one match-day squad in February and has been relegated to fourth choice left-back having been told by his manager to up his game in training if he is to earn his opportunity, in the same manner midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan did earlier in the season.
It was a different story under former boss Louis van Gaal at the start of the previous campaign when Shaw was arguably United’s best player before a horrific double leg break in September ended his season prematurely.
“You’ve seen the talent’s there, those first couple of months he was fantastic,” Irwin said.
“It’s up to the manager to decide when he wants to throw him in there.
“He’s only a young lad and he’s come back from a horrendous injury. It’s been a bit of a battle this year to play left-back – you saw Darmian play quite a few games there, Blind has been very, very good at left-back, very consistent, Rojo played in the final on Sunday, there’s competition there for Luke.
“All he can do is get his head down, work as hard as possible to impress the manager. He’s only young so he’s got time on his side.
“It looks like the position that’s the most open in the team at the moment. I think everybody will be given an opportunity with the amount of games coming up.”
Even on the rare occasions when Shaw has been seen in a United shirt this season, the former Southampton trainee has failed to emulate the form he was showing prior to the injury he suffered against PSV Eindhoven in 2015.
A number of niggles have also stalled his momentum and Irwin, who held down United’s left-back berth for over a decade, admits it cannot be easy recovering from an issue that kept him sidelined for almost a year.
“I think you have to be in that position to assess that,” he said of any possible mental scars.
“I was fortunate enough not to pick up any injuries as severe as Luke got. It can’t be easy.
“He’s only a young lad and he’s got a vastly experienced manager there, a lot of experienced players there that he can talk to. He just needs to keep going and work hard.”