In August, Louis van Gaal decided to allow young defender Tyler Blackett to leave Manchester United and join Scottish champions Celtic on loan until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Blackett, who joined United when he was only eight years old, broke into United’s senior team last season having worked his way up through the youth ranks at the club. He made 12 appearances for the Red Devils last term, which included a start in Van Gaal’s first ever Premier League game in charge of United.
However, the management at the club felt that it was important for Blackett to have a period away from Old Trafford and play more regularly in order to continue his development.
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How has Blackett performed at Celtic?
Having been loaned out to Blackpool and Birmingham City over the course of the 2013-14 season, Blackett would’ve been used to finding his feet in new surroundings. The 21-year-old, born in Manchester, made his debut for Celtic at left-back in September against the league leaders at the time, Aberdeen.
He lost his place in the team for a few weeks but a suspension to first-team regular Efe Ambrose meant that Blackett returned to the side in early October, this time in central defence. Despite playing well whenever selected by Celtic manager Ronny Deila, Blackett has made just five appearances in all competitions for the Scottish club so far during his loan spell.
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Lack of defensive options at United
As a result of United’s recent defensive injury crisis, Van Gaal has severely lacked options in defensive positions of late. Daley Blind, who was converted into a centre-back at the start of the season, has been forced to cover at left-back in recent weeks while 30-year-old winger Ashley Young has been lining up at right-back.
English left-back Luke Shaw has been Manchester United’s main long-term absentee this season, having broken his leg against PSV Eindhoven in September. The 20-year-old was in excellent form and his rehabilitation process is going well, but he is expected to be out of action for at least another three months.
Argentinian international Marcos Rojo underwent surgery earlier this month on the shoulder that he dislocated in training. Both right-back options Antonio Valencia and summer signing Matteo Darmian have been sidelined for months with foot and hamstring injuries respectively. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has done well so far since his promotion to the senior squad playing at left-back, but the 18-year-old was used more as a centre-half at youth level.
What can Blackett offer?
With so many players currently injured, Blackett’s versatility could prove to be extremely useful should United decide to bring him back to the club earlier than planned. Blackett is primarily a central defender but he is just as comfortable at full-back or as the left-sided centre-back of a three-man defence.
The young Mancunian is tall, very powerful and quick across the ground. For someone so young, his tough-tackling nature and calm, composed style on the ball is highly commendable. Additionally, like fellow United academy graduate Paddy McNair, Blackett’s reading of the game has come on leaps and bounds over the past year.
Should United look to bring Blackett back to Old Trafford sooner rather than later? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!