He wouldn’t ordinarily be the first name of the teamsheet for a Manchester United match in the Premier League, but Portuguese youngster Diogo Dalot should be there or thereabouts for caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he plots his starting lineup for tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off against Fulham.
Dalot, aged 22, has only 10 United appearances to his name to date, but has generally acquitted himself very well. The trip to Craven Cottage is the perfect time for Solskjaer to put his trust in the Portugal Under-21 international.
If he doesn’t, he risks running veteran Ashley Young into the ground.
Young, aged 33, has played the full 90 minutes in five of United’s seven games so far in 2019. Antonio Valencia started against Newcastle United on January 2 and Dalot played the FA Cup third round game against Reading. Other than that, it has been Young all the way.
With the Champions League last-16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain coming up next week and big domestic games to follow, Solskjaer ought to be managing Young’s involvement.
While United’s full-backs don’t bomb forward to the extent of some of their rivals, many of the Premier League’s elite regularly rotate their full-backs to ease the strain in what is one of the most demanding positions in the modern game. An away trip to Fulham is the sort of game in which United ought to be able to rest their first-choice right-back.
With Valencia and Matteo Darmian both having picked up injuries, Dalot is Young’s undisputed deputy at the moment.
Whether Solskjaer fully trusts the former Porto man remains to be seen but, in an ideal world, Young should be resting his legs and preparing for PSG this weekend.