Luke ShawPA

Luke Shaw in action against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League

United have already triggered the option of the one-year extension they hold on Shaw’s four-year contract not only for the logical reason of preventing him from becoming a free agent next summer but also because they have not given up on him.

Shaw reminded everyone – not least Mourinho – of his capabilities with an impressive display on his first start since April as United warmed up for the Manchester derby with a win over CSKA Moscow that ensured they will go into the Champions League knock out stages as group winners.

Manchester United retain an interest in Tottenham’s Danny Rose but if Shaw can sustain his fitness and form over the course of the season then they could well shelve that move. The ball though is in Shaw’s court. He has to show he can maintain the fitness and form over a sustained period of time.

There are two main reasons why he has had to wait so long for his first start.

Firstly, his fitness levels were not good enough at the start of the season following his recuperation from ankle surgery. Secondly, when he was ready for a comeback, he found the rejuvenated Ashley Young blocking his path.


Luke ShawPA

Luke Shaw impressed going forward for Manchester United

Luke ShawPA

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw suffered from cramp in the second half

Young’s form after making a successful transformation from winger to wing-back has been so good that Mourinho simply has not been able or inclined to leave him out – and his displays have even earned the former Watford and Aston Vila player an England recall after a four-year international exile.

Shaw got his chance last night because Young was rested ahead of the Manchester derby. Young will return for Sunday’s showdown but Shaw has done his chances of regaining the left back position in the long-term no harm at all with his energetic display.

He twice came close to scoring his first ever senior goal although he was culpable in the build-up to CSKA’s controversial strike just before the break when he failed to properly track Mario Fernandes’ burst into the box.

But his passing was sharp, he got up and down the left flank well, and the fact he lasted the full 90 minutes was a tribute to the hard work that Mourinho demanded he put in on the training ground if he was to stand any chance of playing.

It will take Shaw more time and games to become a regular – especially if Young stays fit and in form – but he will get plenty of opportunities with the season moving into the mid-winter months when the fixtures come thick and fast.

If United go all the way in all four competitions they are facing a marathon 64-game season for the second year running and Mourinho will need all his players fit and ready to play so he can rotate and keep everyone fresh.

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The United boss has often criticised Shaw, both for his fitness and application. He even said he needed to ‘change his football brain’ after a game last April.

But it is not because he doesn’t rate the player it is because, as United legend Rio Ferdinand has said, he is testing his mental toughness and trying to fire him up. And he has been impressed with Shaw’s response and determination to prove him wrong.

He also acknowledges Shaw has been desperately unlucky with injuries, underlined by the fact that last night’s start was only his 50th appearance for United in three and half years.

Senior figures at Old Trafford insist they and Mourinho retain faith in Shaw. Having invested a huge amount of money in the player – a £28m transfer fee plus around the same amount in wages – there is no appetite or urgency to move him on, especially as his injury problems are, hopefully, over.

Young is 33 next summer and can’t go on for ever. Daley Blind is a utility player rather than a specialist wing back while Marcos Rojo is a left sided central defender.

Shaw is still only 22 with plenty of time yet to fulfil all his early potential. The thinking at Old Trafford is why move on one of England’s potentially brightest talents and then leave themselves with the problem of securing a costly replacement?

Man Utd team news: Luke Shaw starts against CSKA Moscow

Tue, December 5, 2017

Luke Shaw has been named in Manchester United's starting line-up to face CSKA Moscow

Play slideshow Luke Shaw Man Utd via Getty Images 1 of 11

Luke Shaw starts against CSKA Moscow and fans are delighted

Apart from Rose, United have been been linked with Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, Espanyol’s Aaron Martin, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Celtic’s Kieran Tierney but ultimately Shaw’s future remains very much in his own hands.

If he continues to impress Mourinho, on and off the pitch, he will have a long-term future at United.

If he dips again then, the clock will be ticking on his time at Old Trafford.

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