Axel Tuanzebe’s return from injury takes on added importance this week amid Harry Maguire’s crisis of form.
Maguire was sent off for England and looks in need of a break after a disastrous start to the season for club and country.
In that respect, Tuanzebe is back from injury at an ideal time.
But even then, the need to rest Maguire does not quite align with United’s plans for Tuanzebe.
The MEN reported this week that United planned to test run Tuanzebe in Saturday’s under-23 match with Arsenal, instead of using him in the first team.
With this under-23 game taking place at 2pm in London, there is no chance of Tuanzebe doing double duty to even make the bench for United’s first team match hours later.
The report states it is Tuanzebe’s preference to get game time at under-23 level before making a first team return, but ultimately it will be United’s decision.
Now United have to make a choice. Stick with that quite sensible plan, or fast-track him into the first team.
United can afford to leave him out
The risks of Tuanzebe breaking down injured could outweigh the benefits if he makes a quick first team return. United will face questions of mis-managing him if this happens.
United have enough options even with resting Maguire. Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are fit, while youngster Teden Mengi is waiting for a chance.
In terms of emergency solutions, Luke Shaw could feature as part of a three, while Scott McTominay has also done so recently for Scotland.
United don’t have a need to fast-track Tuanzebe back, even though there is a temptation.
On the positive side, if he did make a return against Newcastle and come through it successfully, then United suddenly have a promising option which can be trusted in even bigger games upcoming in the Champions League, and against Chelsea, Arsenal, and Everton.
Axel Tuanzebe’s injury woe
- Injured in warm up vs Liverpool in October 2019
Tuanzebe had been set to start his first Premier League game for United before picking up a hip injury. He did not return to action until December.
- Limps off in cup tie vs Colchester
Tuanzebe was making his first start since returning, in a Carabao Cup tie in late December. He was substituted after an hour after picking up a hamstring injury which kept him out until the end of February.
- After making a return for the under-23s in March, football went into lockdown.
Tuanzebe then suffered a foot injury in training at the start of June which required an operation and had kept him on the sidelines since.
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