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Van Gaal banishes unfit Shaw from main Manchester United training squad

That’s what you get when you go player shopping in a bargain basement.

Luke Shaw of Manchester United and Mikai Balasa of Roma battle for the ball.
Luke Shaw of Manchester United and Mikai Balasa of Roma battle for the ball.
Image: Doug Kane/AP Images

MANCHESTER UNITED BOSS Louis van Gaal is calling the shots, and no mistake, in his first few weeks on the job.

The Dutchman has sent £32m signing Luke Shaw off to train on his own in an effort to improve his fitness. Van Gaal says the teenager, who was in Brazil with the English squad earlier this summer, will not fit into his system unless his fitness levels improve.

“[Shaw] is okay,” said van Gaal, “but I am always a coach who sees individuals and what they need. He needs to be fit and is not very fit or fit enough to do what I want. So first he must be fit, then he has to train.” He added:

I cannot judge how long that will take, but I see what I see. I have spoken with him and we have made a programme for him. He agreed with me. How long [until he is fully fit]? That we have to see, but that I don’t know. I have heard good messages from [United fitness coach Tony] Strudwick, but we have to see.”

Shaw’s fellow defender Chris Smalling, meanwhile, has expressed his fondness for the 3-4-3 system van Gaal is seeking to impose on the 20-time league champions. “I like it more than the traditional 4-4-2. It allows you a lot more freedom and you can be aggressive,” Smalling said. ”Each day we’re picking it up. we are making gradual improvement. we have to keep on improving.”

While Shaw may be tasked with a left wing back role, Brazilian defender Rafael may be required in a three-man defence. The Brazilian, though, has flown home after suffering an injury and is a fitness doubt ahead of the Premier League kick-off in less than three weeks.

Lifeline for Zaha

United’s new Dutch field boss offered little insight on reports of a possible transfer offer for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from Inter. Colombian Fredy Guarin reportedly is being mentioned in a swap for Hernandez but van Gaal said he was clueless.

“I don’t know nothing about that,” he said. “Is it true? Probably. I think you probably have to wait for the announcement of Manchester United. For me, I don’t know.”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United Photocall - Old Trafford Van Gaal outlines his United vision at a 17 July press conference. Source: Martin Rickett

Wilfried Zaha will start at striker in the second half of Manchester United’s friendly against Inter Milan this evening. The 21-year-old from the Ivory Coast product, brought in from Crystal Palace last year, has been a winger but will be tested as a finisher in van Gaal’s new formation alignment, a formation he used with great success guiding the Dutch national side at the World Cup.

“When we play this system, he has to play as a striker or he cannot play in this system,” Van Gaal said. “I said I believe he can do the job. He believed me and now he’s performing well.”

It could be a make-or-break showing is at hand for Zaha, with stars Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie among the others vying for time on the front line. Both men are captaincy candidates as well, although Van Gaal said he is picking match captains on tour based on those who he will play for 90 minutes.

- © AFP, 2014 (additional reporting by Patrick McCarry)

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