It is widely known that people in Manchester are some of the best gamblers, however most may not have predicted Manchester United’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven and the loss of England full-back Luke Shaw which was even more horrific. After Hector Moreno’s tackle left the talented defender with a double fracture of his right leg, Shaw was left facing the prospect of spending six months on the sidelines and missing out on the European Championship finals in 2016. This would be devastating news, both for the player and from the perspective of Roy Hodgson.
While this is an improved prognosis given that doctors initially feared that Shaw would initial be ruled out for a minimum of nine months, the defender faces a huge battle to regain physical and match fitness in time for the Euro’s. From the perspective of United manager Louis Van Gaal, his club must also reorganise their defensive line-up and regroup for the rest of their domestic and European campaign.
The incident itself seemed innocuous at the time, as Shaw went on a surging run through the left channel and into the PSV box. He was met with a fierce, if admittedly fair; tackle by the desperate Moreno, who took the ball with force before careering into Shaw’s leg. The impact was heavy, and it was quickly apparent that Shaw had incurred a serious injury. Despite some muted appeals for a penalty, the tackle was inherently fair and former Manchester United captain has even heralded it as a ‘brilliant’ challenge.
As Shaw was stretchered away, many experts feared the worst. The left-back was treated on the pitch for more than 10 minutes before being ushered away and it looked like Shaw was set for a similar length of absence to that endured by Aaron Ramsey in 2010. The injury also came at the worst possible time for Shaw, who had recently cemented himself as the first-choice left-back for club and country and showcased some incredible form in the opening weeks of the season.
The most recent diagnosis of six months out is to be considered as relatively positive news for Shaw, as it means he could potentially return to fitness towards the end of March. If he could then secure some game time towards the end of the Premier League season, Shaw’s tenacity and pedigree would see him earn an outside chance of being selected for the European Championship finals in France.
There are sadly many issues with this, as Shaw may need to build his fitness in the reserves and through regular substitute appearances before returning to the first-team at Old Trafford. This would limit his playing time considerably, meaning that Roy Hodgson would have little choice but to leave Shaw out of his final squad in the summer. This would be a devastating blow for the young Englishman, and he will need to work diligently and rely on all of his natural fitness if he is to play a significant role for both United and England this season.