Though he’s currently unable to play as he recovers from an ankle ligament injury, this season is a vital one for Manchester United defender Luke Shaw.
"I feel that this is my season to prove myself and I'm feeling in good shape," he told The National after watching United's first pre-season game, a 5-2 win over LA Galaxy in California. "I want to show everyone that I believe in myself and show the manager that."
Shaw, a world record £27 million signing for a teenager when he joined United from Southampton in 2014, had been at odds with Jose Mourinho on more than one occasion, but he will be given a chance to establish himself as the club’s first choice left-back after he recovers from an injury sustained in another home draw, against Swansea City in April.
“I’m working hard and I’ve been doing rehab each day with Ash [Ashley Young],” Shaw said. “It has been coming along really good. I’ve been running on a tread mill and doing my leg weights and making sure my foot is strong. I’ve also been doing a lot of cardiovascular work to keep me in good shape. I’m feeling good. The sooner I’m back the better and hopefully it is soon because I want to get out there playing.”
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The 22-year-old doesn’t want to put a date on his return, but he could be back for the first league outing of the season at home to West Ham United in one month. He also hopes it’s the last of the serious injuries which have so far hampered his Old Trafford career.
“I’m in a positive frame of mind and don’t want talk too much about the past, but I do think that I’ve been unlucky with injuries,” he said. “My leg and now this. It was unlucky. I want to put them in the past.”
After a mediocre first season in at Old Trafford, a venue where he’d impressed so much as a Southampton player, Shaw worked hard over the summer of 2015 and excelled on the field before a horrific leg break in Eindhoven in 2015.
He was bought to be United’s left-back for 15 years, but injury and form meant he’s yet to establish himself as mainstay, featuring in only 16 league games in 2014/15, five in his injury hit second season and 11 last term when his future at the club appeared uncertain.
United’s manager has been impressed by Shaw’s attitude while injured though and watches him closely.
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“When me and Ash [Ashley Young] tend to finish our sessions, we go over to see what they are doing and we see him [Mourinho],”Shaw explained. “He asks how I am, how it is going and he keeps on top of how we are and to see how far along we are.”
He’s found support from other areas.
“I keep myself motivated in different ways,” he said. “The fans especially keep me motivated. They are always sending good messages to me on social media. The players in the dressing room too - without them it would be very difficult but they are all superb. They are a great bunch of lads. We all help each other when there are hard times like this. They all want to see me back out on the pitch as much as I do.”
He talks of the positive mood in the United camp ahead of the new season.
“It’s really good and a lot different to last year in China,” he said of a tour where one of the two games was postponed and travel was also disrupted by the weather. “That was hard, but everyone is enjoying it this year and we couldn’t ask for anything better. The facilities we have at the training place are second to none, the weather has been good and the boys couldn’t ask for better games in pre-season.”
United will play Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid among others on a tour Shaw was happy to be invited on by his manager.
“At first I thought we weren’t going on tour but deep down I think it is very important for us to come on tour,” Shaw said. “All of the lads are away and we are with them. It is bonding for everyone to be around. I am so glad I am here. I am enjoying it a lot, although I am not playing. It is a really good place to be and it is a really good squad to be around. It is buzzing at the moment. This is just the start.”
United play their second game in the US against Real Salt Lake on Monday.