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When Manchester United plays Liverpool FC, Kobbie Mainoo can make a significant wager.

In Erik ten Hag’s Man United ambitions, the midfielder could be able to future-proof himself this weekend at Anfield.

In the EFL Trophy match against Salford City, Kobbie Mainoo, nearing the end of his recuperation from a long-term ankle ailment, played the whole ninety minutes and dominated the midfield.

Despite finishing the game with two assists, the 18-year-old’s performance was unaffected by the 4-3 loss. Even though he is still a youngster, Mainoo’s slow motion made him appear like the most experienced player on the field as he swaggered past Salford’s rivals.

With his quickness restored, the midfield player has been receiving accolades from both teammates and commentators. He had an outstanding performance in the victory over Everton, and he started the following league match against Newcastle.

Although he hasn’t played since that loss, he will undoubtedly start at Anfield, where he could need to demonstrate experience beyond his years. Mason Mount, Casemiro, and Christian Eriksen are out due to injuries, and Bruno Fernandes is suspended following five yellow card accumulation.

With the in-form Harry Maguire sidelined due to an injury, Sofyan Amrabat and Scott McTominay are anticipated to start and might be asked to sit in front of the defence. Although this is not McTominay’s forte, the Scot was requested to sit after Amrabat was substituted in the Manchester City loss.

Mainoo would thus be able to assume Fernandes’ usual position as an attacking midfielder, which he held during his debut in the League Cup quarterfinal victory over Charlton Athletic in January. It was also his role when he recorded his two assists against Salford, both of which were excellent plays. Mainoo’s versatility allows him to play both centrally and as a deeper midfielder.

Due to injuries, absences, and Liverpool’s strong play, Erik ten Hag may decide to play a straight middle three instead of an attacking midfielder. That would, however, isolate the offensive trio, and the defensive strategy may be destroyed by a single Liverpool goal.

Therefore, Mainoo might be instructed to lead the attack by breaking forward and giving Ten Hag something to think about. Fernandes hasn’t missed a game due to injury since joining United in 2020, therefore the team doesn’t really require a backup for him.

However, those times will undoubtedly come, and a substitute will have to be found. Mainoo has a ton of potential and years to give. Setting an example against Liverpool would make Ten Hag pause and possibly recognize him as Fernandes’ backup.

There is a void that Mainoo must fill because Donny van de Beek is scheduled to go for Germany in January, Mason Mount is finding it difficult to contribute, and Christian Eriksen is hurt. Although it is hoped Fernandes won’t require a backup, time is of the essence at 29.

Given the conditions, United is set to face its most difficult away day of the season. If Mainoo can make an impression at a hostile Anfield, which has just witnessed an increase in capacity, he can convince Ten Hag that he is capable of succeeding Fernandes.

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