Amazing academy star could ease Wan-Bissaka injury blow

When it rains it pours for Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag’s men likely still licking their wounds following the weekend’s dismal 3-1 defeat at home to high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion – a result that has contributed to the club’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season.

With three defeats from five so far, ahead of Wednesday’s trip to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League, things on the pitch are going about as well as they are off it, with the former Ajax boss also having to deal with the banishment of both Antony and Jadon Sancho at present.

Those woes have only been heightened by the ongoing injury crisis which has engulfed the club, with the likes of Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat currently sidelined – the latter man having yet to feature since his deadline day arrival.

It is in the defensive ranks, in particular, where the Red Devils currently look particularly depleted, as Ten Hag is set to be without Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia for the foreseeable future, while Raphael Varane has also been absent in recent weeks.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

That dearth of options has now been compounded by the news that resurgent right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also set to be sidelined over the next two months or so, with the Englishman having sustained a hamstring injury during his brief, late substitute appearance against the Seagulls.

How good has Wan-Bissaka been this season?

After initially enjoying just four minutes of action in the first half of the 2022/23 campaign – sparking speculation that a January exit could be on the cards – it is fair to say that 2023 has been the year of ‘The Spider’, as he has enjoyed a remarkable return to form of late.

The former Crystal Palace man appears to be in line for a new contract extension such has been his renaissance since the World Cup break, having notably been one of the few bright sparks in the current campaign, providing one assist and averaging 83% successful dribbles per game as a marker of his improved attacking displays.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Raphael Varane

The 25-year-old was particularly impressive in the win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening weekend after teeing up Raphael Varane for the game’s winning goal, having been a ‘good performer’ on the day, according to Manchester Evening News journalist, Samuel Luckhurst.

For such a promising beginning to the season on an individual basis to be halted by injury will be of real frustration to both the full-back and Ten Hag, with the Dutchman now needing to consider just how he can replace the stricken star moving forward.

Who can replace Wan-Bissaka at Man United?

Of course, the obvious candidate to take on that starting role is Diogo Dalot, with the Portuguese right-back having been deployed in that berth on Saturday after Wan-Bissaka was hampered due to illness.

2022/23 PL season by numbers

Diogo Dalot (via Sofascore)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (via Sofascore)










Tackles and interceptions (per game)



Total duels won



Key passes (per game)



Avg. match rating



While that is the former Porto man’s natural role, the 24-year-old has also been forced to cover at left-back this season due to the loss of both Malacia and Shaw, with it likely that he may be asked to slot into that unorthodox role over the coming weeks, if Sergio Reguilon fails to perform.

That latter man did initially impress on debut against Roberto De Zerbi’s side after producing a lively, attacking display, although as Luckhurst noted, the Spaniard was ‘exploited’ for the game’s opening goal, while his ‘rustiness was apparent in the second half’.


There may be a case to be made that Dalot could shift over to the left to provide greater defensive security, while the right-back vacancy could be taken over by a promising academy talent, despite Ten Hag’s prior claim that Sofyan Amrabat can fill in at full-back.

With the Moroccan international needed to help aid United’s midfield woes – with that department branded as “non-existent” during the win over Wolves by Gary Neville – Ten Hag would be better served prising Habeeb Ogunneye from the youth set-up instead.

Who is Habeeb Ogunneye?

With the Old Trafford outfit having allowed promising Spaniard and FA Youth Cup-winning defender, Marc Jurado to join Espanyol on a permanent deal this summer, it is young Ogunneye who has stepped up to replace the 20-year-old in the U21 side.

The London-born teenager – who previously made 18 appearances for the U18’s, assisting three goals – has played in all four Premier League 2 games so far this term at right-back, while also starting in the EFL Trophy clash with Stockport County last month.

That outing against senior opposition showcased the full array of the 17-year-old’s talents, as he made two tackles and two interceptions as a sign of his defensive prowess, while also providing one key pass as a marker of his ability in an attacking sense, as per Sofascore.

It is that threat going forward that has particularly caught the eye in recent times, with the Englishman appearing to possess the ability to simply glide past opponents when carrying the ball out from defence.

Of course, attempting to replicate such displays in the senior ranks is a difficult task, although Ogunneye can likely take inspiration from the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, two teenagers who have already forced their way firmly into Ten Hag’s plans.

It may seem too hasty to already be thinking about plunging a 17-year-old into the backline, but with injuries mounting at the Theatre of Dreams, the experienced tactician may have little choice but to put his faith in the gifted and emerging superstar.

With rumours already rife that the United boss is keen to strengthen at right-back next summer – with Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong one name to have been mentioned – he could potentially save the club millions by unearthing an exciting academy prospect such as Ogenneye over the coming weeks and months.

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