Among Manchester United’s 29-man training squad in Spain, Brandon Williams might be the player with the most motivation.
Brandon Williams already knows what it takes to represent Manchester United, making 50 appearances, and has seen that hard-earned opportunity fade away.
After being sent out on loan to Norwich City in 2021/22, injury ruled him out of the first part of this season.
Now the door has re-opened, slightly, thanks to the World Cup.
Brandon Williams could return to starting line-up
Brandon Williams is currently the most senior left-back available to Erik ten Hag right now.
Luke Shaw is still at the World Cup with England and Tyrell Malacia with the Netherlands. Both players are into the quarter-finals.
Alex Telles is out on loan and so is Alvaro Fernandez. Brandon Williams is, for now, the ‘next man up’.
United are pretty lucky in this scenario, that a player of Williams’ experience is available.
He has played in FA Cup and Europa League semi-finals, and adding in his spell at Norwich, he has 79 appearances at senior level.
Even though the last of these for Manchester United came at the end of the 2020/21 season, Williams is an able stand-in.
With Shaw and Malacia at the World Cup quarter-finals, even if they do not progress further, with rest time necessary, neither will be available for the Carabao Cup tie against Burnley on December 21.
This game will provide Brandon Williams the platform to show Erik ten Hag his quality, and demonstrate that he should start the Premier League game at home to Nottingham Forest on December 27, rather than rush Shaw or Malacia into the XI.
Conceivably one or both of them could be available – but if Ten Hag is comfortable with Williams, it would be preferable to give him the nod, and ease his World Cup stars back into the XI.
By January, it is likely Williams will be back to third choice, and then in need of a loan move, unless Ten Hag sees fit to move him over to deputise at right-back.
In the short-term, Williams has a real opportunity to aim for, and will be making the most of this chance during the next month.
The World Cup has provided him with an opening to get his career at United back on track, and even if this is just a case of putting himself in the shop window, the 22-year-old will be determined to seize it.
Erik ten Hag will be looking for Williams to put all of that to one side, and concentrate on the club – there is a job to do for the team first and foremost.
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