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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Luke Shaw "a long way behind" Manchester United team-mates, says Jose Mourinho

Luke Shaw is out of favour at Old Trafford
Luke Shaw is out of favour at Old Trafford

Luke Shaw's Manchester United future looks bleak after Jose Mourinho accused the left-back of being a "long way behind" his team-mates.

A fine start to last season was brought to an excruciating end by a double leg break, but the 2016-17 campaign has arguably been even more frustrating for the 21-year-old.

Shaw has made just two United appearances in the last four months - despite overcoming niggles related to a long lay-off and being fit since mid-January - and been publicly criticised by Mourinho on several occasions.

The England left-back's last match came a month ago against Bournemouth when Press Association Sport understands Mourinho was angered by the left-back speaking to an opposition player at half-time.

Relations have been frosty ever since and, despite doing extra sessions at home on top of United training, the future looks gloomy for the left-back - much to the bemusement of the player, along with some team-mates and staff.

Shaw's place in the pecking order was hammered home by Mourinho leaving him out of the squad entirely on Saturday, despite a spate of absentees leading to Matthew Willock being named on the bench for the first time against West Brom.

Asked what the left-back needs to do to get on the bench, Mourinho said: "Who? Luke Shaw? It's difficult for him to be on the bench.

"Because I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, with (Matteo) Darmian, with (Daley) Blind.

"I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind."

Mourinho's body language was as damning as his words, just days after England manager Gareth Southgate showed his faith in Shaw by bringing him off the bench in Germany.

"Joe Hart is an English international and is playing on loan in Italy," the Portuguese added.

While Hart had to settle for Torino, there is understood to be plenty of interest in Shaw should he be made available this summer - three years after United made him the world's most expensive teenager.

The full-back is not alone in being targeted by Mourinho this weekend, with the manager having laid into his attack and accused some of his players of disappearing against West Brom.

Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were the focus of Mourinho's ire after the 0-0 draw, with the United boss saying such consistency is not a one-off.

"It's not today," he said. "It's every day. It's every day, so I keep doing what I'm doing during the season.

"I try, I give chances. I give chances, I try. Play again. Play again. Come on. Keep going. You have talent.

"They know they have talent. Okay, let's go. Let's try. Let's have one more opportunity. No pressure. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

"There is nothing else we can do."

United need to find a way through against Everton on Tuesday to give their top-four hopes a shot in the arm.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera return from suspension against the Toffees, while the sight of Paul Pogba taking part in a five-a-side with the duo on Saturday night offers hope of him returning.

Mourinho has promised to battle until it is "impossible mathematically" to secure a Champions League berth through the league, but Juan Mata could miss a large chunk of the run-in after undergoing groin surgery.

"I think a long time," he said of the Spaniard's absence.

"I think Mata, (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling for a long time, and (regarding) Pogba I cannot say he is ready for Tuesday because I don't know

"But I don't think Pogba is such a long-term injury as the others."

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