Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed Luke Shaw is enduring a "difficult period" and admitted his poor fitness record is one of the primary reasons why he is not currently part of his first team plans.
United sources and Shaw's agent Jonathan Barnett dismissed reports earlier this week claiming the full-back would be sold by the Old Trafford club next summer, yet Mourinho has now offered more clarity on the full-back's future.
When asked whether his injuries problems at United are contributing to his absence from his side, Mourinho responded: "Of course. You try to have in the squad the players with more minutes, the players in better shape, in better condition.
"In Luke Shaw's case, even in the game against Reading, when he could have started the game and had 90 minutes, in the morning of the game he was ill and not ready to play.
"So even in that match, which could have been good for him, he was not able to play, so he's having a difficult period."
If Shaw's future at United remains unclear, Mourinho believes the much-maligned Marouane Fellaini has turned a corner with his detractors at Old Trafford after some vital contributions of late.
Fellaini was booed by a section of United fans last month, but Mourinho has backed the Belgian star and suggested he has overcome his problems to confirm his worth in his squad.
"I think the fans turned back in his favour after he went back to good performances,” added Mourinho of Fellaini.
“He's showing great character and the fans are showing great respect and great knowledge about his contribution.
"In the last matches he has been very important for us. He played very well the last match he started, coming in and being important in other matches in the last 20, 25 minutes. He's contributing well and he's a player who can be very useful.
“He can be more positional and more defensive. He can be more offensive and an extra man in the opposition box. He can be dangerous there. With me, he started the season and played some matches as a positional midfield player.
"In late matches when the team needed a goal, like against Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Hull City, he was playing in more offensive positions.
"He's a player who has a good understanding of the game and now I know him better than before I know where he can help the team."