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Luke Shaw has returned to training with Manchester United for the first time since August, offering a significant boost to Erik ten Hag's threadbare defense. Shaw joined the squad at Carrington on Wednesday and will be eyeing minutes in United's first game back after the international break, away to Everton on Sunday.

England international Shaw has played just two games this season and has not featured since the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in mid-August. With Tyrell Malacia having been sidelined since pre-season, Ten Hag, who described Shaw as "the best left back in the UK" in March, has been desperately short of options at left back and in the hours before the transfer window closed United were forced into a season-long loan deal for fringe Tottenham player Sergio Reguilon.

The Spaniard is one of four players to have featured at left back in the Premier League for Ten Hag since Shaw's injury. Diogo Dalot and Victor Lindelof have shuffled across from their usual defensive positions while Fiorentina loanee Sofyan Amrabat, more naturally a defensive midfielder, delivered two underwhelming displays in the backline.

United are still without long term absentee Lisandro Martinez, but Shaw's return is crucial to offering Ten Hag's side an outlet to their buildup play down the left flank. No one averaged more touches than the 28-year-old last season and only Harry Maguire averaged more carries. Among Premier League defenders last season, Shaw ranked in the top 10 for progressive carries. He is also an extremely effective aerial outlet, routinely winning 60 percent or more of his duels.

Shaw's return is well timed for United, who face a tricky run of games when club football resumes at the weekend. Following their trip to in-form Everton they will travel to Turkey, knowing a defeat to Galatasaray would eliminate them from the Champions League. After that comes a run of five games that includes meetings with Newcastle, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool.