Successive wins over Arsenal and Watford in the space of four days has boosted Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the top four, and the news keeps on improving for Louis van Gaal.
Luke Shaw hasn’t played a single minute since suffering a double leg-break against PSV Eindhoven in September but he’s so far ahead in his rehabilitation that United are hopeful the left back will return to action before the season is over.
That is according to the Manchester Evening News, who also claim that Roy Hodgson is considering Shaw a part of his plans for this summer’s European Championships despite a lack of football.
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It is thought that Shaw will be ready for the final weeks of the season in May, meaning he could still play a key role for United in three tournaments.
Van Gaal has seen his team progress to the FA Cup quarter finals and the Europa League last 16 in recent weeks, and they are now level of points with fourth-placed Manchester City in the Premier League.
The Dutchman has selected a host of players to fill Shaw’s boots. That the best of the lot has been academy graduate Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, 19, shows how big a loss the former Southampton man has been.
United made Shaw the most expensive teenager of all time when they signed him for a reported fee of £30 million in 2014. He struggled in the early stages and admitted that he was out of shape when he arrived at Old Trafford, but turned his fitness and his form around before suffering the nasty injury.
England's best option at left back
To see him back will be a welcome sight for both Manchester United and England fans. When healthy, he is Hodgson’s best option at left back and that is why the England manager isn’t ruling out picking him for his 23-man squad.
“We’re still monitoring Luke Shaw - I know he’s making good progress,” he was quoted as saying by MEN. “Hopefully by May, when I really have to make a decision, they’ll [Shaw and Jack Wilshere, also injured] be available for selection.”
Yet it still represents quite a risk for Hodgson to take Shaw to France. England have two warm-up matches against Germany and the Netherlands at the end of this month that the United star won’t be ready for, and, if he is included in the squad, his first taste of international action upon his return could be the opening group game against Russia on June 11.
Even if he makes his return in early May, that gives the youngster roughly fives weeks to prepare for the best Europe has to offer.
Hodgson has a really big call to make. And that's exactly what the FA pay him the big bucks for.