Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has insisted that either of Chris Smalling or Phil Jones may have to leave Old Trafford if they continue to be played out of position.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Keown suggested that Louis van Gaal should build his defence around the pair or face another dilemma similar to the one that saw Danny Welbeck leave the club this past summer.
Out of position
Keown has insisted that there are similarities between Jones, Smalling and Welbeck because all three of the players have previously failed to hold down a regular spot - and position - at the Theatre of Dreams.
Jones - who is primarily a centre-half - has often been shipped into the defensive-midfield role or out at right-back. Smalling has also featured at right-back on a number of occasions in recent years despite wanting to fill the centre-back role at the club.
And, Keown has suggested that one of them may have to depart the club, as he said: "Both players are now on their third United manager. They need Van Gaal to either give them a chance and build a defence around them or one of them could be shown the door.
"I can’t imagine they’ll both be allowed to leave but they might need a change. If you transfer the theory of Welbeck – not one I believe in – to them, then they could be allowed to leave.
"United didn’t think Welbeck was a goalscorer and played him out wide and the same has happened to those two from a defensive point of view. They have been pushed all over the place into wide positions and midfield. They should either give them a main role and a part to play or if that’s not coming their way then one may well have to go."
For now, though, the pair will be on the sidelines for United's clash with West Ham United tomorrow afternoon. The Red Devils face a defensive nightmare, with Jonny Evans also out of action and youngster Tyler Blackett suspended following his red card in the club's humiliating defeat to Premier League new-boys Leicester City last weekend.
Versatile Dutchman Daley Blind, then, could deputise at the back alongside Marcos Rojo, with youngster Luke Shaw occupying the left-back role. United boss Louis van Gaal could, however, go with youngsters Tom Thorpe or Paddy McNair in the centre-half role.