Axel Tuanzebe is a near certainty to start for Manchester United against FC Astana this week.
For the young defender, this is an overdue opportunity and he has had to be very patient this season so far.
In turn, Tuanzebe deserves patience from fans as his season gets underway.
Over the past month and a half, Tuanzebe has not played any football, until he was brought on in the 90th minute against Leicester.
His last appearance was back on August 3, as a substitute in a friendly with AC Milan.
Star in development
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made clear Tuanzebe is his third choice centre-back behind Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire.
United supporters have high hopes for him, and that’s why his performance against Astana should be judged fairly, whatever happens.
The visitors from Kazakhstan have the potential to be awkward opponents, and Tuanzebe will have to work hard to ensure his lack of football does not see him caught cold.
It is also worth bearing in mind that he will most probably line up alongside Phil Jones, with Solskjaer keen to give minutes to players who have not yet featured this season.
Jones has not played at all this season, and the context of Tuanzebe coming in alongside a makeshift defence, as opposed to a very settled one, is very different.
What we are worried about is that the circumstance of a lack of football, coming into a changed team, and facing an unusual opponent under the lights at Old Trafford may present a difficult first start for Tuanzebe.
He has to start somewhere, but there just should not be an over reaction if it is not perfect right away.
This is a season for Tuanzebe to continue to develop. He is only 21 and while impressive in pre-season, this is a step up for him from the Championship last year with Aston Villa.
2019/20 is about learning for him, and if he can challenge for a starting spot then it is a bonus. With Victor Lindelöf’s recent form mixed, it would be great if Tuanzebe could step up and stake a claim for his place.
Lets see how he gets on this Thursday, but if there is a mistake or two, don’t over react, it is just part of the process, Tuanzebe will learn from it. This season is a journey for him and this is the first step.
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