Timothy Fosu-Mensah
Fosu-Mensah yet to play under Jose Mourinho. Getty

Manchester United have traditionally viewed the EFL Cup in a rather disparaging light, using it as an opportunity to throw a game to fringe members of the squad or as a chance to blood some of the club's emerging talents.

That could change on Wednesday (21 September), however, when they travel to Sixfields Stadium to take on League One's Northampton Town.

Jose Mourinho is staring down the barrel of four straight defeats, something no United manager has suffered since 1961. While elimination from the rebranded League Cup would hardly be a sign of the apocalypse, his side could really do with a win.

Starting tonight, United have four games in the next 12 days before the international break, meaning rotation could still enter his thinking. While the chances of a raft of untried youngsters coming into the first-team seem slim, there are two who stand a real chance of earning some game time tonight.

Axel Tuanzebe

Axel Tuanzebe
Tuanzebe featured in a pre-season friendly against Wigan. Reuters

The 18-year-old centre-half has looked a cut above the rest in his appearances for United's Under-23 side this season, building on the rapid progress he made with the Under-21s last term.

He, along with fellow defender Tyrell Warren, were the first two academy players at the club namechecked by Mourinho following his official appointment at Old Trafford before his first match in charge against Wigan Athletic, having been assured by the club's head of academy Nicky Butt and head of football development John Murtough they have futures in the first-team.

The teenager came on for the last eight minutes of that game at the DW Stadium, but it was enough to impress his new manager.

"You can play 90 minutes or 1 minute. Sometimes 1 minute is enough," Mourinho said. "With Axel, ten minutes is enough. The potential is there, you see it immediately. You know him better than me because you know him for a few years but if anyone sees him for the first time, ten minutes is enough to see the potential."

A composed presence at the heart of defence, Tuanzebe has already shown excellent ability to read the game while his outstanding physical attributes tick another box, should the club feel he is ready.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Fosu-Mensah powerfully broke onto the scene last season under Louis van Gaal. Although there were rumours during the summer he was one of a clutch of players told he could leave the club, those suggestions were later labelled as 'rubbish'. A new four-year contract signed in August followed, but the 18-year-old is still to make an appearance under Mourinho, having made the bench just once.

In matches against Watford and West Ham United last season, Fosu-Mensah shone at centre-half and left-back respectively. In United's Under-18 ranks, he looked similarly adept in a holding midfield role. Given his size and speed, many United fans envisage him taking up a midfield role in the long-term. Right now, he will be satisfied slotting in wherever needed. Luke Shaw's injury and Marcos Rojo's excruciatingly bad performance against Feyenoord a week ago could open up a slot on the left-hand side of defence.