Ever since the World Cup break, Manchester United’s fixture pile-up is increasing by the day and they now face the prospect of playing 10 games in the space of one month.
Erik ten Hag knows the importance of squad depth ahead of a crucial second-half of the season where United will be fighting on all four fronts.
While a few first-team stars are frustrated at the lack of minutes, a few are slowly regaining fitness and have started training after a long absence.
One of them is Axel Tuanzebe, who was spotted in team training earlier this week and is keen to try and impress the Dutch manager.
Promising United career petering out
The centre-back has not played competitively for well over a year, with his last appearance coming for Napoli in a Copa Italia defeat to Fiorentina on January 13, 2022.
His last appearance in a United shirt was in the heart-breaking Europa League final loss to Villarreal in May 2021.
The United academy graduate also became the youngest player to captain United since Norman Whiteside in 1985, during an EFL Cup victory against Rochdale in September 2019.
Axel Tuanzebe back training with the group pic.twitter.com/peUCshc8KO
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) January 23, 2023
But injuries and poor form have derailed his career with last season being one to forget. It started promisingly back in Aston Villa, where he had shone on loan earlier in his career.
But he soon lost his place in the first XI and after playing only 11 times in six months, Tuanzebe decided to take a risk and moved to to Napoli in the Serie A.
That proved to be a disaster as the England U-21 international ended up playing only 10 minutes in the league.
After disastrous last season, Axel back in training
He was supposed to be part of Erik ten Hag’s pre-season squad but an injury meant he had to fly back to Manchester and recuperate.
The defender returned to solo training last month and was placed on a personal training plan at Carrington by the Dutch manager.
After a long time away from competitive football, Tuanzebe was finally back on the grass with his teammates this week. He was pictured jogging and taking part in rondo games.
As reported by The Manchester Evening News, he is not expected to go out on loan and will provide the Dutchman extra options in defence.
“Tuanzebe is expected to remain at the club after the January window to provide extra competition and back-up for senior centre-halves Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, as well as Luke Shaw.”
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