Ethan Laird is hoping to start for Manchester United this week in the Europa League against LASK.
It will be his second start for United, following an impressive showing against Astana last November. He then came off the bench against AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford.
So he achieved what he set out to do this season, and make the first team, but with his last appearance back in December, Laird is hungry for more.
The highly rated full-back has been training with United’s first team since the beginning of July, with a view to a potential appearance in this match against LASK.
The date of the match on Wednesday August 5 falls almost exactly one year to the day that he made a statement of intent with his first academy appearance of the 2019/20 season.
It was on August 6 2019 that Laird featured for Manchester United’s under-23 side in the EFL Trophy match away at Rotherham United.
With James Garner pulling the strings in midfield, it was Ethan Laird who broke the deadlock, scoring a well taken goal from the edge of the box.
On one of his many forays forward, Laird received the ball wide on the edge of the area, took a touch to steady himself, and then rifled the ball low across the goalkeeper into the corner of the net.
It was a statement of intent from Laird that he wanted to kick this season off in style, and it has turned out to be an important campaign for him individually.
Injury in an under-23 game later in August delayed his progress but didn’t deny him his first team debut, and now he is back for more.
He has done enough to earn the call into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans, and now the manager gets a chance to take a closer look at him.
Opportunity is there
Solskjaer has made evident since the restart that Diogo Dalot is not in his plans. Laird has a chance to overtake him.
It is very possible he overtakes Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the pecking order too.
Even if this is not the result after one game against LASK, in 12 months time, Laird should be United’s first alternative to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The 18-year-old has a lot to prove, but he can offer a very valuable alternative to the former Crystal Palace man.
Laird is strong defensively, eager to make tackles and good in the air, yet it is the attacking side of his game which really grabs the attention.
While often Wan-Bissaka looks uncomfortable and hesitant with the way he attacks, Laird is fluid and decisive, eager to put crosses in, and not afraid to take a shot if an opportunity is presented to him.
This is why it is so important he takes his chance this week, because he has a lot to offer United, and can make the team better.
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