José Mourinho announced on Friday that Luke Shaw and Ashley Young would make their return from injury for Ricky Sbragia’s U23s side on Monday evening as the Reserves took on Swansea City. The game ended in a 1-1 draw but both players got 58 minutes under their belts in their road to recovery.
Shaw was in his usual position at left-back and put in an assured display. It is sometimes easy to forget, given he was an established Premier League player before he joined United, that Shaw was eligible to play in the Premier League 2 without being classed as an over-age player. The full-back turned 22 earlier this summer and probably has a decade or more of Premier League football to come.
It was an encouraging hour from Shaw. While he didn’t stretch himself unnecessarily, mainly playing simple, straightforward football, he also didn’t shy away from challenges. The England international did support the attack and made a number of runs down the flank. He looked sharp and not far off being in contention for the first team.
In his post-match interview with MUTV, Shaw expressed his happiness at being back on a football pitch. He said: “[It was] very pleasing. I was very happy to get 60 minutes tonight. It was very important for me and Ashley [Young] to get the minutes tonight after the rehab we’ve had.” He hopes he can push on now, keep himself fit and get stronger and stronger.
In terms of his goals now, Shaw added: “I’m looking for the first team spot now. I’m going to keep pushing and when the manager needs me I’m going to be ready. Whenever that is, I’m really looking forward to it and rather sooner than later.” In an effort to convey how he felt about his fitness, the defender added, “Now I’m feeling really good and when I get called upon I’m ready.”
That will be news welcomed by United fans. While the likes of Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian, among others, have deputised in the left-back position it will be a positive step to have a fit Luke Shaw available for the first team, especially heading into a season where United will realistically be expected to challenge on many fronts, including the Champions League.
Ashley Young will also have been glad to get minutes under his belt, although he will be less happy with his performance than Shaw will be. The midfielder looked off the pace and not as sharp as he could be. While understandable he looks further off a first team berth than Shaw as he failed to show his quality against Swansea’s reserves. At times his decision-making let him down. However, sharpness comes with minutes and it may well be that we will see either or both players for the u23s on Friday.
It is worth noting that, once subbed off, both players remained on the bench (instead of heading in for an early shower as is often the case in similar situations) to watch the rest of the game. At the full-time whistle, both Shaw and Young spent time with the fans, signing autographs and taking photos. Shaw even gave a young supporter his jersey after the game.