Luke Shaw must fight to save his Manchester United career from catastrophic failure, according to manager Jose Mourinho. The England international has not played a single Premier League minute since October and his spell at Old Trafford is threatening to slip into complete obscurity.
The 21-year-old, who suffered a broken leg in his sophomore season at Old Trafford, has featured in just 28 of the club's 101 top-flight games since joining from Southampton in 2014. Having recovered from a groin problem he was left out of the matchday squad for the fifth game in a row in the 2-0 win over Watford, while his only appearance in 2017 has come against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup.
Daley Blind started the game ahead of Matteo Darmian, who was named as one of seven substitutes but failed to figure as United extended their unbeaten run in the league to 16. Mourinho was critical of Shaw's attitude earlier in the campaign but now admits the full-back is "fighting hard" to earn a recall.
"The only thing I can say is that Luke is working well," he said, according to The Independent. "I don't have any problem and he's working well. He's fighting hard, there is no problem with him. He has to work and wait.
The United boss added: "Against Watford I wanted one defender on the bench and the defender is someone who can play in more than one position. Darmian can play left-back, right-back and an emergency central defender for us so my choice was Darmian."
Such was Shaw's plight that The Indpendent suggested he could be offloaded at the end of the season, with both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur interested in the left-back. Shaw's agent has since moved to quash the speculation, with Jonathan Barnett telling IBTimes UK the reports were "irresponsible".
Though United remain in the FA Cup, in contention for a Champions League place and face Southampton in the English League Cup final, Mourinho has wasted little time turning his attention to next season and the summer transfer window. The Portuguese coach has already stated his desire to sign between two and four players, while also confirming his intention to retain Zlatan Ibrahimovic beyond his current one-year deal.