Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw has been ruled out for “a number of weeks” ahead of the club’s home fixture against Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon.
The injury was confirmed on United’s website on Thursday evening following a report from David Ornstein of The Athletic that stated The Reds hope the muscular problem will only keep Shaw out for weeks rather than months.
His absence will be a big blow for Ten Hag, who is looking to improve performances following a slow start to the Premier League campaign, especially because his understudy Tyrell Malacia is also unavailable for selection.
The two left-backs join five others on the treatment table at Old Trafford. Mason Mount was ruled out until after the September international break earlier this week, whilst Kobbie Mainoo and Amad picked up injuries during the pre-season tour.
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton suffered a calf problem in training earlier this month and new signing Rasmus Hojlund is nursing a back problem which has delayed his debut for the club.
Read More: Updates on when Rasmus Hojlund could make Manchester United debut
The injuries at left-back now though are the most prominent. Brandon Williams left the club on loan to Ipswich Town earlier in the day on Thursday, meaning that there are minimal options for the position in the upcoming games.
Diogo Dalot seems the likeliest option for Ten Hag since Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks to be first-choice on the right side at the moment. However, the injury will almost certainly mean that United’s hand is forced in one particular transfer decision.
It was reported on Thursday afternoon by Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News that sources within the club say that there remains significant interest in the Spanish left-back for either a loan or permanent move.
That news followed several transfer reports on the youngster, including one from Sky Sports, which stated that La Liga side Granada were in talks with United to sign Fernandez on loan with a buy-option in the contract. Premier League club Burnley were also amongst the clubs linked to the defender.
However, the injury to Shaw means that Fernandez is one of only two fit players who would be comfortable playing in the position. There is also an argument that Lisandro Martinez could move wide but then United would be missing his qualities as a centre-back.
So it appears that Ten Hag and United will be forced to keep the 20-year-old at the club, at least until January, and it could turn out to be great for the player, who could get the opportunity to prove his worth to the manager. However, it could also stunt his development if he is not afforded minutes ahead of Dalot.
Before pre-season began, left-back seemed like one of the strongest areas of depth on the pitch for Ten Hag and a loan move for Fernandez seemed nailed on. Malacia was then injured shortly before the squad jetted off to the United States and now Shaw’s knockback means the situation has turned on its head.
It might provide Fernandez the platform to shine, or it could cause issues for both him and the club. Only time will tell.