Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal appears to have confirmed he will buy another left-back during the January transfer window, doubting first-team option Luke Shaw will recover from injury before the end of the season.
Shaw enjoyed a terrific start to the campaign and looked to have made the position his own until he suffered a horrific double leg break in a Champions League encounter with PSV Eindhoven in September.
Van Gaal has shuffled his defensive options with Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian all featuring in Shaw's absence, but the United manager has indicated he may have to bring in a natural left-back to fill the void during the second half of the season.
"Luke's rehabilitation is going well but the process can be very slow. I don't know if he will play again this season. The doctors won't take any risks with him, which is good," Van Gaal told reporters.
"I was convinced Luke would have a very good season and because of that I didn't want to buy a second player for left-back. Maybe we have to buy a left-back in January."
In the wake of van Gaal's comments, former Chelsea stalwart Ashley Cole has found himself linked with a move to Old Trafford. Cole, regarded as one of the best left-backs of his generation, left the Premier League to join Roma in the summer of 2014 but has not played since March after being frozen out of the first-team. According to the Sun on Sunday, United will consider the 34-year-old as a short-term option while Shaw remains sidelined.
Cole lost his place to Shaw in the England team ahead of the 2014 World Cup but is likely to consider his options should offers come in January.