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Five Manchester United players desperate to send Erik ten Hag a message this week

The international break might signal downtime for some Manchester United players, but for others it will act as a fresh opportunity to showcase why they should be getting more involvement.

After a tricky start to the campaign United have begun to find their rhythm under new manager Erik ten Hag and a key component of that success has been down to their consistency. Ten Hag tweaked his line-up following defeats to Brighton and Brentford and now appears to have found a preferred approach, with a pool of players who have been used in their five subsequent wins.

The Dutchman might well go for the same set-up when United return to action against Manchester City next month. But, with nine matches to come in October, it is quite clear that their squad depth will soon need to be fully flexed.

It means that a number of players who are yet to feature properly this season could be thrown into the first-team frame and there are five senior players in particular with a point to prove over the international break.

Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been the go-to centre-back partnership for United over the past three years but both have now lost their starting places and face uncertain long-term futures at the club. Ten Hag had planned to head into the new season with Maguire partnering summer signing Lisandro Martinez but those plans were scrapped after such a bad start to the campaign.

The 29-year-old remains the official club captain but there is a feeling that he could lose the armband permanently if he does not reclaim his place in the team, which looks unlikely if Raphael Varane stays fit.

Yet despite being back-ups for United, both Maguire and Lindelof remain key players at international level and will both get a chance to showcase their talents this week.

Reclaiming a starting spot is the obvious ambition for the duo but first of all they must battle one another to become the third-choice in defence and ensure they are the beneficiary when a change is needed.

Another playing looking to reclaim their starting role is midfielder Fred. The 29-year-old is a hugely popular figure in the first-team squad but has lost his place following a summer of change under Ten Hag.

Scott McTominay and Casemiro have been identified as the defensive midfield options in the United midfield, with Bruno Fernandes continuing to monopolise the attacking berth. It was thought that Christian Eriksen would come in to play a supplementary role but he has exceeded expectations and is now a key player in the progressive role.

Eriksen, 30, is arguably the most important player to the set-up, given there is a clear drop-off in quality when he is not playing, but given the packed fixture schedule, United will need to find a way to win without him at certain stages this season.

Fred looks to be the most likely candidate to fill that role, though teenager Zidane Iqbal has shown huge promise as a possible long-term midfield successor. The Brazilian is involved at international level this week and will be eager to prove not only why he should go to the World Cup, but also why he still has a key role to play for his club too.

United are also going to need to rely on extra firepower in attack some weeks, given their failure to sign another central attacking option in the summer transfer window.

Ten Hag has already toyed with the idea of using both Eriksen and Jadon Sancho in centre-forward roles while there is a suggestion that summer signing Antony could also be used there if required. Regardless of what they do decide, United must properly utilise all of the attacking talent they have and youngsters Facundo Pellistri and Anthony Elanga will be keen to show they have something worth offering in attack.

Pellistri, 20, would have left on loan in the summer if not for an ill-timed ankle injury in the penultimate pre-season match while Elanga, also 20, received loan offers but was kept at the club on Ten Hag’s recommendation.

The two young wingers might

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