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Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag will unleash perfect player to unlock Kobbie Mainoo this month | Football | Sport

Kobbie Mainoo’s emergence has been one of the shining lights in a dark season at Manchester United. His impressive impression has been made all the more so by his lack of support in midfield alongside attack-minded team-mates. That took its toll against Tottenham Hotspur as United found themselves overrun.

However, Mainoo has had the privilege of spending hours on the training pitch with one of the most decorated midfielders in football history over the last 18 months.

Casemiro would have undoubtedly played a role in preparing the 18-year-old sensation to become a regular in Erik ten Hag’s expansive midfield.

And imminently, the pair will likely play alongside each other for the first time this season in a partnership that holds the potential to reignite United’s campaign.

Casemiro retained his status as an ever-present fixture in Ten Hag’s side at the start of the season before suffering an injury in the 3-0 home defeat to Newcastle United on November 1.

Later that month, Mainoo returned from an injury of his own, picked up against Real Madrid in pre-season, when it was indicated he would be a major player this term.

Mainoo and Casemiro almost crossed each other on their way in and out of the medical room, but they will soon link up on the pitch.

The 31-year-old midfielder was named among the substitutes in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, but Scott McTominay was favoured over him from the bench in the second half.

Casemiro is almost certain to return to action in United’s next game, though, when Ten Hag will likely take a strong squad on an FA Cup fourth-round trip down south.

United will face League Two Newport County or National League Eastleigh in a mouth-watering tie that represents what the FA Cup is all about.

Given it would’ve been two weeks since the Spurs clash, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ten Hag name close to his first-choice team.

The fact it’s the only remaining silverware he can realistically lift this term adds to that theory. And his first-choice midfield must feature Casemiro and Mainoo behind Bruno Fernandes.

What would be a surprise is Casemiro remaining at Old Trafford beyond the summer. All signs are pointing towards a Saudi Arabia switch, which would help United recoup a chunk of his £70million transfer fee in 2022.

But while the five-time Champions League winner is still at Ten Hag’s disposal, he must squeeze all the experience and know-how out of him and transfer it to Mainoo.

Casemiro’s presence would allow the United No 37 to express himself in his natural box-to-box role rather than operating as the holding midfielder. That, in turn, could make him even greater.

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