Shola Shoretire did not travel with the Manchester United squad to Milan, nor was he with the squad against Leicester City.
With both Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek back, there was no need for the talented teenager.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to give the gifted teenager a prominent role while both senior international stars were out, there was little chance of him featuring upon their returns.
Whether Solskjaer made an error by not giving Shoretire a proper chance, is open for debate.
Opportunity opened up
Shoretire did make his United debut, playing one minute in the Premier League against Newcastle, and then the final 14 against Real Sociedad.
When the 17-year-old looks back at his season, he will see this as a tremendous achievement, to make his debut so young.
Yet when you consider the injuries which led to his chance, it may have been a wasted opportunity from United not to give him more game time.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backs his youth stars, but also lacks bravery in the way Louis van Gaal did. Solskjaer is too cautious with his team selection.
The United boss should have used the opportunity when Pogba and Van de Beek were out, to give Shoretire more game time, to have a real look at him.
How long will it be before the same pathway opens up again for the teenager?
It’s possible Shoretire could get a chance at the end of the season if United qualify for the Champions League with a game or two to spare. If not, we will be looking to next season.
Benefits of rotation
The opportunity to give Shoretire time came in the home tie with Real Sociedad.
Both Shoretire and Amad Diallo sat on the bench until the final 14 minutes, while Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford played 45 minutes each.
United were already 4-0 up at the time, and pushed both Fernandes and Rashford into action, partly due to other injuries.
This later came back to bite United, with Rashford going onto sustain two separate ankle injuries which caused him to miss the Leicester game.
Fernandes was deemed so shattered after the Milan game that he was not ruled fit enough to start against Leicester.
Had they both been given the night off against Sociedad, with United 4-0 up from the first leg, both players may have found their bodies held up stronger over the past fortnight.
To do so, Solskjaer would have had to be braver with Shoretire, and give him 90 minutes against Sociedad.
It seems like an opportunity missed to not have done so. The coaching staff could have learned so much more about the prodigious young talent by putting their trust in him.
Solskjaer’s caution with young players seems ill-balanced with his over reliance on Rashford. This may be something he has to re-think when he analyses where he can improve as a coach.
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