Manchester United left back Luke Shaw has been ruled out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Shaw was signed in June from Southampton for £27m and has been handed the number 3 shirt vacated by Patrice Evra, who left for Juventus, but was criticised for lack of fitness by United manager Louis van Gaal and was put on a special training scheme to cope with the tactical demands of his new manager.
He featured in all five of United’s International Champions Cup games in the United States but was not in the squad for the 2-1 win over Valencia at Old Trafford yesterday.
United youth player Reece James was used in the left wing back slot in place of Shaw and could start the season opener at Old Trafford against Swansea City.
James has never played a competitive game for United and has only two senior appearances on loan at Carlisle last season before his loan spell was cut short by injury.
With United missing experienced defenders with the loss of Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, van Gaal has so far largely opted to play a three man defence with attacking full backs during pre-season.
United are left with the talented but relatively inexperienced Chris Smalling, Johnny Evans and Phil Jones, with only the two-footed Evans able to play on the left of a three.
United used youth team full back Tyler Blackett on the left of the three central defenders yesterday but van Gaal has identified a need for an experienced left sided central defender to join the squad.
Van Gaal missed out on a chance to sign former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen who instead opted to join Barcelona.
United instead targeted Argentine left sided defender Marcos Rojo of Sporting Lisbon who submitted a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move to Old Trafford while Dutch left sided utility player Daley Blind, of Ajax, has been linked with a reunion with his former Netherlands boss.
Rojo, who played in the World Cup final for Argentina, could join for £15.9m but, like Robin Van Persie, may not be fit enough to feature from the start against Swansea this weekend even if a deal could be completed in time.
With the season only three days away it seems possible that James will be handed a dream start in the early kick-off.