Di’Shon Bernard has been named by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a starter for Manchester United’s fixture with Astana, the MEN reports.
Bernard, 18, has a great chance to climb up the pecking order for United if he seizes his chance.
After Phil Jones’ disastrous appearance at the weekend, it is fair to say Bernard has a chance to overtake him if he plays well against Astana.
An error strewn performance from Jones at Bramall Lane should be the final straw in his United career.
Bernard stepping up would underline there is no more room for Jones, especially with Eric Bailly on the verge of a return.
This game comes just too soon for Bailly, who is not expected to be back playing until late December.
What can Bernard offer?
Bernard is into his third full season at Manchester United since joining from Chelsea in 2017.
He has featured regularly for the under-23s this season and has also starred in the under-21s EFL Trophy campaign, with United only conceding once in three games.
The youngster has captained the side once this season, and even in his own words he says he has leadership attributes.
Speaking to the club website last year, Bernard said: “I would say I’m quite an aggressive defender and I’m a leader. I command everyone on the pitch so I can be a big vocal point for the team.
“Overall, I just think, if you want to get to the top, you have to put in the work.”
Bernard says he has worked extensively in the gym since joining United to adjust physically so he is ready to play first team football.
Even though Bernard says he is aggressive, he has only picked up one yellow card in 11 matches. He even provided an assist in the recent win over Stoke.
He will line up alongside Axel Tuanzebe against Astana, and will also have experienced defender Luke Shaw in the back four too.
There is competition from rising star Teden Mengi and Max Taylor, so Bernard’s selection is a show of faith from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
What could be next?
He won’t immediately be catapulted into the first team no matter what happens against Astana.
Bernard will likely be back with the under-21s next week for the EFL Trophy game against Tranmere Rovers.
United’s coaching staff will be watching him closely to make sure his effort and quality does not drop off when moving back down a level.
The competition for first team places is high at centre-back, with Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe all pushing Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire for places when fully fit.
But when injuries strike, as they have, and United consider playing three at the back, the position opens up, and this is how Phil Jones got his chance at the weekend.
The Jones experiment is nearly at the end, and Bernard has a chance to take his spot in the pecking order and might get onto the bench for a few Premier League games.
There is another Europa League match to follow against AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford, and a Carabao Cup tie against Colchester. Bernard could get into consideration for both.
A clean sheet against Astana will be a positive start and earn Solskjaer’s trust for a more regular role.
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