Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have both returned to full first-team training ahead of Manchester United’s fourth round FA Cup tie.
Erik ten Hag’s side will travel to Newport County on Sunday as they seek to book their place in the fifth round.
The competition is United’s last chance of success this season, having already crashed out of both the Champions League and Carabao Cup, as well as languishing in seventh in the Premier League.
The Dutch manager will be relieved to welcome back Maguire and Shaw after extended periods of absence for both players. They were pictured in training on the club’s social media page today.
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Maguire has not played since the impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford in early December. The England international was forced off the pitch with a groin injury.
Similarly, Shaw has not played since the away defeat to West Ham just before Christmas. He had been expected to return for the Tottenham Hotspur draw two weekends ago, but was forced to pull out last minute. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was fielded in the unfamiliar left-back position in Shaw’s place.
The 28-year-old fullback had previously missed nearly three months of the season with a serious hamstring injury sustained in August. Given his deputy, Tyrell Malacia, has also been ruled out for the entirety of the year, the left-back position has been a constant source of worry for Ten Hag.
As such, the Dutchman will welcome Shaw’s return; as he will Maguire, despite removing the captaincy from the 30-year-old last summer.
Rather surprisingly, Maguire has re-established himself as an important part of Ten Hag’s plans, after appearing to come close to a departure from Old Trafford in the summer.
A transfer was agreed with West Ham for £30 million but a deal between could not be struck over personal terms between the two clubs and the player.
Instead, Maguire fought his way back into Ten Hag’s team due to injuries to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. In fact, some realistically argued that the English defender was United’s best player this season, prior to his groin injury in December.
His performances were even recognised by the Premier League as he was voted the Premier League Player of the Month for November. The last United defender to win this award was Nemanja Vidic, nearly fifteen years ago.