HEAD COACH Thomas Christiansen has backed Matthew Pennington to be a “good replacement” for suspended centre-back Liam Cooper if given the nod to partner Pontus Jansson for Sunday’s Championship showdown at Sheffield Wednesday.
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Cooper will miss the trip to Hillsborough by serving a one-game ban for being sent off after picking up a second yellow card during Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss at new leaders Cardiff City.
But Everton loanee Pennington has recently made a timely return after injuring his ankle in the opening weekend victory at Bolton Wanderers with the 22-year-old back in action as a half-time substitute during Tuesday’s clash in Wales.
Christiansen also has another option at centre-back in versatile 21-year-old Conor Shaughnessy.
“This is the opportunity for other players to come in and to show their worth,” said Christiansen when asked about Pennington.
“I believe that Matthew will come in good and be a good replacement for this game and after we will see if he continues in the squad. But I have to choose first if it’s Pennington, if it’s Conor or if we play with three. We will see.”
Cooper and injured striker Caleb Ekuban will be United’s only absentees for the trip to Hillsborough with midfielder Eunan O’Kane and the versatile Vurnon Anita having both returned to the Whites hold having missed Tuesday’s match at Cardiff.
Irish international midfielder O’Kane missed the showdown with Cardiff through illness while Dutchman Anita was rested for the clash in Wales after being substituted in the second half of Saturday’s 3-2 win at home to Ipswich Town. Asked about the latest situation with O’Kane, Christiansen said: “He is in and Anita is also in. So the only two who are out are Caleb and of course Liam because of the suspension.”
Ekuban, meanwhile, is continuing to recover from surgery to correct a broken bone in his foot.