Man Utd news: Red Devils thwarted by FIFA rules as Erik ten Hag left fighting new crisis | Football | Sport | Express.co.uk

Man Utd thwarted by FIFA rules as Erik ten Hag left fighting new crisis

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has battled a string of injury issues this season.

Erik ten Hag Man Utd

Erik ten Hag is down to the bare bones at left-back (Image: Getty)

could be forced to play the rest of the season without a senior left-back in 's ranks. and Tyrell Malacia are both out injured, while FIFA rules would prevent the Red Devils recalling Alvaro Fernandez from his loan spell at Benfica.

Fernandez is a promising full-back prospect with prior experience at Preston North End and Granada. But United evidently felt they could do without him as Benfica swooped in January, agreeing a loan deal with clauses to make the move permanent.

Senior figures at Old Trafford have now been left to rue their decision, with injuries to Shaw and Malacia reducing Ten Hag to the bare bones. Recalling Fernandez is not an option due to FIFA regulations stipulating players can only represent two clubs in a single campaign.

The 20-year-old started the season with Granada before being shipped out to Portugal, meaning first-team appearances for a third club - Manchester United - are off-limits.

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Benfica v Toulouse - UEFA Europa League

Alvaro Fernandez is restricted from playing for three clubs in a single season (Image: Getty)
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Benfica will have to fulfil an obligation-to-buy clause if certain criteria are met during Fernandez's loan spell. And even if they're not, the Portuguese league leaders will retain the option to purchase him for a modest fee.

The Spain U21 international would be extremely useful for Ten Hag after Shaw was struck down with a muscle injury which is set to keep him out of action for the next 'few months'. United's starting left-back is even in danger of missing Euro 2024 with England.

Malacia was signed to provide competition for Shaw in 2022, but a persistent knee issue has prevented the Dutchman from making a single competitive appearance this season. United fans have raised the prospect of recalling Brandon Williams from his loan spell at Ipswich Town.

The 23-year-old has made more than 50 appearances for the Red Devils, while the fact he has only played for Ipswich this term means a return to Old Trafford would not incur the risk of breaching FIFA rules.

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However, the move would require an agreement between United and Ipswich, as well as approval from the EFL. The Tractor Boys may be keen to keep hold of the left-back as they push for promotion to the Premier League.

Ten Hag's injury crisis leaves him without any senior options on the left-hand side of defence, but Diogo Dalot - a right-back by trade - has acquitted himself well while filling in this campaign.

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