Christian Eriksen is dealing with an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win at home to Reading. The extent is unclear, with United still to give a full diagnosis of the problem.
If Eriksen is forced to miss a few weeks, then it will certainly be a problem for Manchester United in the midst of a packed fixture schedule as Erik ten Hag balances competing in four competitions.
The transfer window is still open until 11pm, and it’s still possible United strike a last minute deal for a midfielder on loan.
It’s more in spirit with United, and manager Erik ten Hag, to bring in a player from the academy to step up. This was how Marcus Rashford got his chance years ago at United, while Ten Hag has a history of blooding young talent at former club Ajax.
READ: Confirmed Manchester United transfers in, out, loan deals for January 2023
Four Manchester United academy talents who could step up
Erik ten Hag inherited a Manchester United side with a strong academy set up and he has various young players who can step up and feature for the first team if needed.
With Donny van de Beek already out for the season due to injury, Christian Eriksen’s injury leaves United short in midfield. Here are four academy players who can step up…
Kobbie Mainoo is the most likely player to get chances. He started for United against Charlton in the Carabao Cup and played 20 minutes from the bench against Reading in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Mainoo was impressive too, completing 25 of 25 pass attempts, looking composed in midfield. Just 17-years-old, he is the youngest of this quartet, and the most advanced in Ten Hag’s plans.
The wonderkid helped United win the FA Youth Cup a year ago and also scored for the club on the winter tour against Cadiz. He has a big future, whatever happens with Eriksen’s injury.
Providing United do not sign another midfielder, Zidane Iqbal will stay and be kept as midfield cover, rather than sent on loan like Charlie Savage.
Iqbal is an Iraq international who was particularly impressive in pre-season. Confident in possession, Iqbal is a player who has the potential to thrive in Eriksen’s role.
The 19-year-old has been training regularly with United’s first team since the summer, and Eriksen’s misfortune could provide him with the path to the first team he has been waiting for.
Like Kobbie Mainoo, Isak Hansen-Aaroen was a regular in Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup winning side last season.
He started Manchester United’s friendly against Real Betis in December after Donny van de Beek picked up a late injury before kick-off.
Hansen-Aaroen is a strong passer who works hard on and off the ball. The 18-year-old has a bright future, and with the likes of Hannibal and Amad out on loan, he has a great chance to step up if there is a spot available.
Dan Gore was another FA Youth Cup winner who provided his first assist for Manchester United’s under-21 side at the weekend.
Gore is an industrious player, good at breaking up play, while also able to contribute in attack. The England youth international travelled on tour to Spain in December but did not get any game time.
While this opportunity may be a little early for him, Gore is a player who could thrive if given a chance like Mainoo has been. He has a strong chance to make it at Old Trafford in the years ahead.