Diogo Dalot was not named in Manchester United’s matchday squad at the weekend, and the sad part was, barely anybody noticed.
Dalot missed the fixture with Liverpool due to another fitness setback, with Premier Injuries reporting he has a groin strain.
United have become used to being without Dalot. He has played just 26 games so far, which include just 13 Premier League starts.
Dalot missed the start of the season with an injury and was only just working his way back into the team.
He started games against AZ Alkmaar and Newcastle, but has played just 180 minutes of football this season.
Most disappointing of all for him, a place in the team has been his for the taking in recent weeks.
Dalot’s versatility means he can play at right-back, left-back, and on the right-wing.
This meant that Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival was no disaster for him. Having a back-up full-back available to fill in on both sides is valuable, it’s how Ashley Young has still retained some importance in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.
It should have been Dalot filling in instead of Young in recent weeks, with Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw both suffering injuries.
Unfortunately Dalot’s own fitness struggles compounded the problems instead of solving them.
United still lack a right winger and Dalot has potential to thrive there.
Instead the club have had to persist with trying Andreas Pereira out of position in the role, with Dalot unavailable.
The start to the season has been one big missed opportunity for him. But there could be new hope on the horizon.
While Dalot was absent at the weekend, United’s formation shift to play three central defenders could be good news for him.
While it may limit his potential chances by merging two positions, right-back and right-wing into one, the actual role itself might be to his benefit.
Dalot is ideally suited to a wing back role, giving him license to get forward and attack while still fulfilling his defensive duties.
He is a strong crosser of the ball and United can benefit from Dalot playing in this position.
For the foreseeable future he will be a back-up to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but there is a chance for him to show that he is a better fit.
Wan-Bissaka has the attributes to play as one of three central defenders in a back three, which would enable both him and Dalot to line up in the same team.
The Portuguese talent needs to overcome his nagging injury battle, and he won’t be ready to retuen for the Europa League game against Partizan Belgrade.
United have become so used to being without Dalot that is absence is almost expected now. But if he can get fit, he can offer United so much.
The £19 million signing is still only 20, and it is smart to be patient. But we really hope this season he can start to step up and show what he is capable of.
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