Harry Maguire is set to step back into the shadows at Manchester United after a painful week in the spotlight playing for England.
Maguire returned to United yesterday for treatment on a muscle injury that has cast doubt over his availability for Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad.
Even if the United skipper is declared fit to face Manchester City, the best he could hope for is a seat on the bench after losing his place under manager Erik ten Hag.
Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are now firmly established as Ten Hag’s first-choice partnership in central defence.
Maguire’s form is under intense scrutiny after a difficult start to the season which hit a new low on Monday night when he was blamed for two of the three goals England conceded in a Nations League draw with Germany and also suffered the injury at Wembley.
England boss Gareth Southgate continues to back the 29-year-old but admits he needs to play more for his club ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
Although Maguire insisted after the 1-0 defeat by Italy in Milan last week that he isn’t worried about ‘rustiness’, there are concerns that a lack of game time for United has affected his form.
One consolation for Maguire is that United play nine games next month — their busiest October ever — so he is likely to have opportunities before Southgate names his World Cup squad in November.
Maguire kept the captain’s armband when Ten Hag took over but was dropped following back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford at the start of the season.
United have won five of their six games since, with Maguire’s only start coming in a loss to Real Sociedad in Europe.