Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal is having enough trouble winning games at Manchester United, and now he’ll have to do it with youth team products on the pitch.
Marcos Rojo is reportedly the only United center back fit for business this weekend, with Tyler Blackett (suspension), Phil Jones (hamstring), Jonny Evans (ankle) and Chris Smalling (leg) all dinged up.
A BBC report says Daley Blind or Darren Fletcher could be options for LVG on Saturday at Old Trafford, but the manager did not point in that direction.
Van Gaal said: “All three of my right-sided centre-halves are out, so I’ll have to go to the youth system.”
Potential candidates to play include Tom Thorpe, 21, and Paddy McNair, 19.
Neither under-21 captain Thorpe nor McNair, who joined United as a midfielder three years ago, have played for the first team.
Smalling limped out of training on Wednesday and, with Luke Shaw expected to make his debut at left-back following his £28m summer arrival from Southampton, Rojo is likely to move to centre-half against the Hammers.
“I won’t take risks with players – they have to be fit,” said Van Gaal.
A Mancunian, Thorpe (pictured) has represented England at each level between U-16 and U-21. He made six appearances on loan for Birmingham City last season, but has yet to appear for the first team.
And Sam Allardyce’s West Ham team is no longer the “pack-it-in” bunch with little offensive flair, as the arrival of Alex Song has provided stability behind attackers like Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho.
Could be another big score line for a United match, though some supporters are certainly thinking their center back play couldn’t get much worse after last weekend’s 5-3 come-from-ahead loss to Leicester City.