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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Man Utd's forgotten man Fosu-Mensah deserves a final lifeline on injury return

The past few years have not been kind to Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

It is close to four years ago that he made his Manchester United debut, in the same game — that 3-2 victory over Arsenal — in which Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene as a Premier League player.
Fosu-Mensah, highly-rated by Louis van Gaal, made 10 appearances that season, including starting the FA Cup semi-final and quarter-final. Just 18 at the time, it looked like a big future at Old Trafford was in store.
Since then? Just one league start for United, a disastrous loan spell at Fulham and a career-threatening injury. Now, 21, Fosu-Mensah is back in United training, having made a full recovery, but it's almost like he's started again. And with his current contract expiring next summer, time is against him.
There is no quick fix to the injury Fosu-Mensah sustained while playing for Fulham against Everton at Goodison Park last season. The dreaded ACL is well known throughout football and the initial prognosis said the Dutchman would be out until Christmas, as he underwent ligament surgery on his knee.
It compounded an utterly miserable loan spell for the 21-year-old at Craven Cottage in which he was usually played at right-back — not his best position — and in a team that was leaking goals all over the show.
His loan was cut short, as he was brought back to United's Carrington training base for the rehabilitation process.
Fulham's relegation had already been confirmed a good 10 days before that Everton clash. And Fosu-Mensah had been subject to the Cottagers fans' ire, as the team had conceded 27 goals in the 12 games he'd played before the Goodison Park trip. The cruel twist of irony was that they actually won that game 2-0, with Fosu-Mensah looking more like his old self before his day ended as he was carried off on a stretcher.
The very fact Fosu-Mensah went on loan to Fulham was the result of a frustrating time when United's coaches appeared to rate him, but didn't consider him first-team material, due to the glut of (largely mediocre) defensive options at the club.
It's quite clear that Mourinho and United got their timing very wrong with Fosu-Mensah's re-integration to the first team.
Maybe he should never have gone on loan, having shown real promise under Van Gaal deserving of more opportunities.
Either way, due to that injury and poor form last season, his United future is now in doubt. He may never join Lingard, Rashford, McTominay and Tuanzebe on a regular basis.
Yet there may be a lifeline in the shape of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian should hand Fosu-Mensah the opportunity to get back on the field in a United shirt (for the first time in two and a half years) in a Europa League or Carabao Cup contest this season.
Given the paucity of options at the club right now, especially in defensive midfield — where Fosu-Mensah can play — maybe it's not the end of his Old Trafford journey.
But, just like he's done over the past six months with injury rehab, Fosu-Mensah will have to work hard for one final chance.

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