Timothy Fosu-Mensah made his second under-23 appearance this year as he stepped up his return from injury.
Fosu-Mensah suffered a serious knee injury last year while on loan at Fulham midway into an underwhelming loan spell.
It is four years since he made his United debut as a substitute in a win at Old Trafford against Arsenal, a match in which Marcus Rashford started his first Premier League game and scored a brace.
While he has gone onto represent Holland at international level, Fosu-Mensah has had a difficult four years while Rashford has shone.
Speaking after the under-23 win over Stoke on Monday night, Fosu-Mensah said he will be ready if the first team need him.
He told the club website: “It is the first big injury of my career and it has almost been one year out. It has been a big test, but I have so many good people around me to keep me motivated, to keep me working hard.
“The most important thing is to keep my body healthy and keep my mind healthy. I have good people around me, the people at the club are being good for me. So I am going to keep my body healthy, work hard and fight for this club.”
Does he really have a chance?
The transfer window came too early for Fosu-Mensah to move on loan again and that might not have been in his best interests anyway.
Playing under-23 football and taking his recovery at a slower pace is probably better for him right now than being rushed to a club with a busy fixture schedule where he will be expected to play twice a week.
He has played in central midfield and at right-back in his two under-23 matches, and while he provided an assist from full-back against Stoke, his better performance came against Newcastle in midfield.
It is here where he stands the better chance at United, with competition at right-back tough with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot and Ethan Laird.
Midfield looks a lot tougher for Fosu-Mensah to break into than it did a couple of months ago, especially if Paul Pogba returns.
Even from a youth perspective, James Garner and Dylan Levitt are building cases for game time which probably supersede Fosu-Mensah’s.
The Dutchman’s last competitive appearance for United came back in May 2017 against Crystal Palace under Jose Mourinho.
He then spent a year at the Eagles on loan, then at Fulham, before picking up his injury.
Fosu-Mensah’s contract expires in June and while United have an option to extend it by a year, he needs to show that the club should.
Realistically, its very possible he never plays a first team game for United again.
If he does feature for the first team this season, it will be a big step in his career after a difficult three years, and he will be determined to make the most of it.
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