The future of the right-back spot at Manchester United has come into focus after a disappointing month for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The Mail has linked United to both Max Aarons and Kieran Trippier, while Brandon Williams could join Diogo Dalot out on loan. Timothy Fosu-Mensah remains an enigma despite claims from SkySports he has been offered a new contract.
The player on the books with the highest potential is young talent Ethan Laird. He may have a small window to impress, and save the club millions.
Recently called up to first team training
Laird’s season has been a frustrating one. He got injured in the under-23s’ 6-0 win over Salford at the start of September, suffering a hamstring injury which kept him out for two months.
He has returned to action since and impressed with an excellent assist in the under-23s derby with Manchester City, creating a goal for Facundo Pellistri to score.
Laird’s reward was to be called up to first team training at the start of the week, among a small group of under-23 players, The Mail reported.
This has given him an opportunity to impress Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the United coaching staff, ahead of a busy January which could see an opportunity come in the shape of a FA Cup game at home to Watford, and a possible fourth round match.
Laird made two appearances last season in the Europa League. He then trained with the first team in July and August. The injury set him back, but he has re-emerged at a good time, to try and impress the coaching staff ahead of a busy month.
What lies ahead for Laird?
United may feel Laird is not ready. Or the club could decide they can’t trust his injury record and want to sign another right-back anyway. A decision could be taken to send him out on loan, to give him first team experience and see if he can hold up physically.
One option United might consider is throwing him into a deal for Aarons on loan to lower a transfer fee. Norwich would be looking for a right-back.
It is up to the teenager to try and convince United now to keep him, and give him an opportunity to step up if Williams is sent out on loan. Laird could even also feature in the Europa League.
Ultimately if Laird is good enough, he will make it sooner or later, but United have a chance to fast-track him through now. It’s an interesting option, and one which could save the club millions if Solskjaer is bold enough to take the call.
- 'Didn't put a foot wrong': Manager praises 'outstanding' Manchester United loanee
- 'We knew': West Ham defender gives his verdict on Manchester United after last-gasp defeat
- 'Treading carefully': Manchester United loanee won't return until next month
- 'It doesn't matter how or who': Manchester United star sends passionate message to fans
- Rio Ferdinand mocks his brother after Manchester United beat West Ham
- 'He can go to the top': Manager tips 'unbelievable' Manchester United loanee to achieve big things
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Martial respond to teammate's 'Fergie time' message
- 'Amazing feeling'… Manchester United attacker says it was a dream to hear fans singing his name
- Manchester United star sets all-time Premier League record in Red Devils win