HARRY MAGUIRE could be handed an instant Manchester United lifeline.
The England star only returned to training along with eight other club-mates yesterday following Qatar duty.
But with Argentinian World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez and beaten finalist Raphael Varane still resting, Old Trafford boss Erik ten Hag is short of defenders for the EFL Cup fourth-round clash with Burnley on Wednesday night.
His only senior centre-back available for their return to action is Victor Lindelof, while prospect Teden Mengi, 20, damaged a knee a week ago in a friendly with Cadiz in Spain.
And fellow centre-half Axel Tuanzebe has not figured once this season.
Ten Hag has told £85million signing Maguire he can go if he does not want to fight for a place.
He headed for Qatar as fourth choice at the club.
But while yesterday was the first United session for him, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw following quarter-final agony, he could be thrown straight back into action.
Before joining up with England, Ten Hag only gave him seven games and just one Prem start, having dropped him in the wake of their 4–0 defeat by Brentford.
The Dutchman could deploy midfielder Scott McTominay alongside Lindelof at the back — yet the United manager is also light on numbers in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile, United triggered one–year contract extensions with Rashford, Fred, Diogo Dalot and Shaw. Had the club not acted, all three could have talked to interested parties next month.
United are desperate to keep Rashford — a target for Paris Saint–Germain.
The forward rubbished claims he is set to sign a new £400,000-a-week deal but Ten Hag is anxious to ensure he is tied down to a new long-term.
Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea’s contract expires next summer, though there are doubts over whether he will be kept on.
Triggering an extension on the 32-year-old’s deal would mean continuing to pay him his eye-watering £375,000-a-week wages.
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