Harry Maguire expected to return for Manchester United FA Cup clash
Harry Maguire is expected to be passed fit for Manchester United’s FA Cup clash with Aston Villa on Monday night, report The Athletic.
Maguire missed United’s defeat to Wolves through injury after sustaining a knock to the chest late against Burnley.
Manager Ralf Rangnick told the club website: “Harry received that kind of injury against Burnley that he could play all throughout the game. But he had problems the day after. Until yesterday, we were still hopeful of him being able to play, the same with Eric Bailly, and in both cases it was just a ‘no’.”
Bailly is now heading to the AFCON with Ivory Coast, and he will not be available until February.
What Maguire’s return means
Maguire’s return is likely to see him slot back into the starting line-up alongside Raphael Varane.
Phil Jones will be demoted to the bench again, despite his impressive showing against Wolves. He was one of the few players to come out of the game with credit.
Victor Lindelof will hopefully be available after Covid, and while he too will surpass Jones in the pecking order, he may have to settle for a place on the bench.
United need the Varane and Maguire partnership to work. The problem is that they have played together so irregularly that it has been hard for them to build up any chemistry.
The team will be back at Old Trafford for the next fixture, against an Aston Villa side who won at the stadium back in September under previous boss Dean Smith.
Jones played surprisingly well against Wolves, and there is a little pressure on Maguire to at least match that against Villa. Maguire had not played particularly strongly against Burnley despite the win, and the rest may have done him some good.
Time to lead
This is also a time for Harry Maguire to prove his leadership credentials. Many, including us, have questioned whether the England ace is the right man to captain United.
But this week we saw Cristiano Ronaldo wear the armband with similar uninspiring results too, and Ralf Rangnick won’t be making the switch permanently.
United need Maguire to step up, on the pitch and off it, to inspire and cajole his teammates into playing together and start becoming a real team again.
The pressure is on at Old Trafford, and it will continue to build towards the next match. Harry Maguire’s return can be helpful, if he plays like the best version of himself, rather than the shaky centre-back we have seen at times this season.
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