Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird was back in MK Dons line-up on Saturday after going off with an injury in midweek.
Considering the defender’s troublesome injury history in United’s academy, it was encouraging to see him make a swift return.
Laird made his 16th League One appearance at the weekend, considering he only signed at the start of January, it is an impressive tally for his first loan spell.
The right-back is answering questions over whether he could hold up to the rigours of first team football, and he has been playing very well too.
The 18-year-old had a mixed game at the weekend, and came out on the winning team as MK Dons beat Burton Albion 2-1.
Ups and downs
Laird provided the assist for what ended up to be MK Dons’ winning goal.
He won a header inside the box after a corner, nodding the ball into the path of his teammate Warren O’Hora, who scored to put MK Dons 2-0 up.
This was Laird’s third assist in 16 games; it wasn’t as flashy as his previous one against Shrewsbury in which he ran at the defence to the touchline and delivered a cross, but it was just as effective.
Where it didn’t quite go as well was when he gave away a penalty 13 minutes later.
Laird made a foul inside the box and Burton scored to bring the score back to 2-1, and set up a nervous last 15 minutes. Laird and MK Dons held on for the win.
This was an important lesson for Laird, about concentration, not to let his standard drop even with his side 2-0 up. At a competitive level, teams will punish any lapse in standards.
In all, United will be very encouraged with how Laird’s spell has gone, and is continuing to go.
It’s unclear whether he will be used next season by United to back up Aaron Wan-Bissaka, or sent out on another loan. Diogo Dalot is also another part of the right-back puzzle with questions marks over his future.
A least Laird is providing positive displays and progress to give United a decision to make.
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