The prospect of Luke Shaw being included in Manchester United's matchday squad against Everton on Sunday afternoon is a massive confidence booster for everyone associated with the club.

One of United's standout players last season, the left-back has been sidelined since late-August because of a muscle injury. His presence, both defensively and offensively, has been sorely missed, with the England international key to the overall balance of the team.

Shaw last appeared for United on August 19, starting their 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. That was one of just two appearances that he has made so far this season.

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The former Southampton defender's muscle problem turned out to be a catalyst for a string of further defensive injuries. Manager Erik ten Hag has constantly had to chop and change his rearguard so far this season, losing the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof and Sergio Reguilon at various junctures, either through injury or illness.

Though Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia are still sidelined with long-term injuries, the situation is beginning to ease, supported by Shaw's impending return. Should he be deemed fit enough to start Sunday's contest at Goodison Park, all eyes will be on where Ten Hag chooses to deploy him, with the defender impressing at centre-back on several occasions last season.

The outcome of that particular selection headache could rest on what Ten Hag decides to do with Varane. Maguire has established himself as United's chief right-sided centre-back in recent weeks and is expected to reclaim his place on Merseyside, meaning Varane, if he is handed a recall, would start in the left-sided role.

However, Ten Hag has hinted that he has reservations about deploying Maguire and Varane as a centre-back paring with the latter on the left side of it. His comments suggest Lindelof could retain his place and start for the second Premier League game running, with Shaw stationed at left-back.

"They (Maguire and Varane) can play together in certain games but from the start when I came in here, I want a player on the left side (centre-back) who is comfortable on this left side or left foot because it gives you more and better angles," said Ten Hag.

Based on current form and the health of the defensive department, Maguire, Lindelof and Shaw could join Wan-Bissaka in forming the back-four. The latter missed the last game against Luton Town, but is often considered as Ten Hag's chief right-back.

Harry Maguire celebrates Manchester United's win over Fulham earlier this month.
Harry Maguire has been excellent in recent weeks.

As for who is stationed behind them, Andre Onana should get the nod, but that depends on his condition after being forced to pull out of the Cameroon squad through injury last weekend. Though several reports elsewhere have claimed it is nothing too serious, Ten Hag will almost certainly provide clarity on his status when he addresses the media on Friday.

As for the rest of the starting line-up that Ten Hag could deploy at Goodison Park, intrigue surrounds what he will do in midfield. With Christian Eriksen joining Casemiro on the sidelines, two of the three midfield spaces are up for grabs, with only Bruno Fernandes considered as a guaranteed starter.

Should he decide to reinstate an out-and-out defensive-midfielder, Sofyan Amrabat should get the nod in the holding midfield role, tasked with keeping proceedings neat and tidy. It would make sense for him to be given another chance to impose himself on the team, with Casemiro unlikely to play again this side of Christmas.

Joining Amrabat and Fernandes in the engine room should be Mason Mount. He was drafted in during the summer for a fee that could eventually rise to £60million.

At that price, he needs to be given the opportunity to kickstart his United career and cement himself in Ten Hag's first-choice XI, operating as the deep-lying No.8, roaming between defence and attack. He is the most logical and well-equipped option to take Eriksen's place.

In attack, United, though it may not look like the strongest option on paper, need to give Facundo Pellistri the nod from the start on the right-wing. He produced two excellent performances for Uruguay during the international break and, at this current juncture, is a more appealing option than Antony, who is continuing to struggle.

Pellistri, though he has not had the same influence as a starter as he has as a substitute on his last few starts, deserves another opportunity to leave his calling card. His performances on the international stage deserve that.

Ten Hag has pre-warned United's fans that Rasmus Hojlund may not be fit enough to start, meaning Anthony Martial should start through the middle, tasked with trying to torment Everton again. Marcus Rashford, despite his lack of goals this season, is the best option to oversee proceedings on the left-wing.

United's strongest XI with current available squad members: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Amrabat, Mount, Fernandes; Pellistri, Martial (Hojlund if fit), Rashford.