Sunday 30 April 2017

Luke Shaw focus

Luke Shaw, right, was restored to the Manchester United starting line-up against Bournemouth
Luke Shaw, right, was restored to the Manchester United starting line-up against Bournemouth

Luke Shaw was surprisingly recalled to Manchester United's starting line-up for the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday, having spent four months largely in the wilderness.

It was not only Shaw's first top-flight appearance since a stalemate with Burnley in October, it was also the first time since that game that the 21-year-old had even been included in a Premier League match-day squad by Jose Mourinho.

Here, Press Association Sport assesses how the England international fared on his return to the team:

MENTALITY

There have been fears that Shaw has been carrying the mental scars of the broken leg he suffered at the start of last season, yet a series of robust challenges here dispelled that theory. The most crunching of them was delivered on Adam Smith in the build-up to United's opener, which left Shaw limping and the Bournemouth player requiring treatment. Moments later, Shaw was clattered into by Andrew Surman, earning the Bournemouth midfielder the first of his two yellow cards.

GOING FORWARD

Before the Cherries were reduced to 10 men Shaw was happy to provide support to left winger Anthony Martial without often going beyond him on the overlap. Given the Frenchman was giving Smith a torrid time, there was little need for Shaw to be another attacking threat. Perhaps the former Southampton trainee could have done more in that sense once the visitors had seen Surman dismissed, yet he did make a couple of impressive passes down the left flank.

FITNESS

Shaw had completed 90 minutes only once in the previous three months and had made just four appearances in all competitions since October. Mourinho stated on Friday that he had been impressed by the full-back's improved conditioning, though, and he did not seem to tire greatly during the 70 minutes he was on the field. With United still in the FA Cup and Europa League and fighting for a top-four berth, Shaw may have been withdrawn before the end to stay fresh for the future fixtures to come.

OVERALL

Shaw had been out of United's first-team picture for so long he may have questioned if he had any future at Old Trafford under Mourinho. However, as he proved with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and even Bastian Schweinsteiger earlier in the campaign, the Portuguese can provide a route back and Shaw did enough here to warrant further consideration as United chase a treble alongside Champions League qualification in the Premier League.

Press Association

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