José Mourinho backs Luke Shaw for lead role at Old Trafford

England international left-back has potential to oust rivals at Manchester United

Luke Shaw has played in just 14 games for Manchester United this season. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images.

Luke Shaw has played in just 14 games for Manchester United this season. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images.

 

José Mourinho believes Luke Shaw has the potential to be Manchester United’s first-choice left-back despite leaving him out of six of the past seven match-day squads.

Shaw will be reinstated for Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth and though he has often preferred Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian in the position Mourinho is confident the 21-year-old can eventually oust these players.

“In practical terms we have lots of left-backs,” Mourinho said. “It doesn’t look like it but the reality is that Blind, Shaw, Rojo, Darmian are all playing left-back and can play there. They are different players. I think the one that should be in a couple of years the best of all – because potentially he should have all the conditions to be the best of all – is Luke Shaw.

“By age, by physicality, by intensity, aggressive going forward, he should be the best. But to be the best you need to work hard. It’s what he’s trying to do.”

Shaw has made only 14 appearances this term and last featured when starting a 4-0 FA Cup win over Reading on January 29th. “Luke is selected for tomorrow,” said Mourinho. “He’s in the list, so one step up from not being in the final. Not even on the bench and now again, like Wayne [Rooney], he’s selected, playing or on the bench. He becomes again an option to us.

‘Good dedication’

“Luke is working hard, he’s trying to improve. He improved by the physical point of view by good dedication, specific work and now he needs some opportunities to feel alive; he needs minutes on the pitch to show evolution is not physical but global because a player is not just a better physical condition.”

It is understood Shaw may consider his options in the summer if he does not have a chance to prove his worth to Mourinho, who is particularly happy with Antonio Valencia. “I have the best right-back in the world,” he said of the Ecuadorian. “Valencia is absolutely phenomenal.”

Marcus Rashford, a full England international, may be selected by the Under-21s for June’s European Championship. Mourinho said that if United get to the FA Cup and Europa League finals his players should “rest for a month and not think about football. Don’t move one leg, just move the arm to get the glass. Disconnect totally.” But he added of Rashford: “He’s a young guy. Maybe every experience – if he is not exhausted – can help him to be a better player. Let’s wait and analyse the situation when that comes.”

Mourinho shrugged off the praise showered on his captain, Wayne Rooney, by Everton’s manager, Ronald Koeman. The striker’s future is uncertain and the Dutchman had stated Rooney would make Everton more powerful.

“I have no issue with this,” Mourinho said. “He [Koeman] told the same for two months about Memphis Depay and then Memphis Depay went to Lyon and they didn’t make an offer for Memphis Depay, so for me, no problem.” Guardian Service

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