Unlucky Ethan Laird could have benefited from United's injury crisis

Spare a thought for Manchester United talent Ethan Laird.

Laird, 18, is arguably United’s most talented young academy defender, but one who has had rotten luck with injuries over the past 12 months.

Right-back is his most natural position, and it was from here he scored for the under-21s in the EFL Trophy in August.

His bad luck is that at right-back, he is behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot and Ashley Young in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.

And unfortunately an injury he sustained in an under-23 game against Reading last month puts him out of the first team reckoning this weekend.


Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Bad luck

This weekend, a freak set of circumstances has struck, which could have led to Laird’s debut.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is out with an injury, and so is Diogo Dalot.

Luke Shaw is also out at left-back, which would normally have pulled Ashley Young out to cover for him.

This could have led to England under-18 international Laird getting his first team chance in a Premier League game.

Instead, United will bring Marcos Rojo in at left-back – he was on the bench ahead of Brandon Williams at Southampton, and move Young to right-back.

It’s cruel luck for Laird to be out injured this weekend, because this set of circumstances might not happen again all season.

Wan-Bissaka and Dalot are unlikely to both be out, along with Shaw at left-back. This could have been Laird’s chance.

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

His next step

Laird needs to now focus first on getting a run of games together for the under-23s and staying fit.

If he had not got injured against Reading on August 16, he would have five appearances for the academy to his name this season and there would be credible discussion about him getting a call up.

Even if he was recovered and fit tomorrow, it would not be considered due to his lack of game time over the month.

Fortunately for the teenager, he can play at left-back too, and United may need more credible options there to challenge Luke Shaw.

He will get more chances in the EFL Trophy, and that might lead to a Carabao Cup appearance or even Europa League game.

Age is on his side, but luck with injuries is not. Hopefully next time there is a first team injury crisis at full-back, he will be ready to step in and not in the treatment room too.

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