Tuanzebe on a 'mission' to prove he's 'good enough' for starting berth at Man Utd

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The English defender is hoping to earn a regular spot in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's line up after impressing in a Europa League opener for the Red Devils

Axel Tuanzebe is determined to prove he has what it takes to become a first-choice defender at Manchester United this season.

The 21-year-old spent the 2018-19 campaign on loan at Aston Villa and racked up 28 Championship appearances in total during their run to promotion.

Tuanzebe returned to Old Trafford this summer with renewed purpose and featured prominently during United's flawless pre-season.

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However, Harry Maguire's world-record move to Manchester at the start of August saw Tuanzebe pushed further down the squad pecking order, with Victor Lindelof currently partnering the £80 million ($99m) man in the heart of the United defence.

Tuanzebe has been restricted to just one Premier League appearance so far this term, but he registered a clean sheet in his only start against Astana in the Europa League.

The England Under-21 international took in the full 90 minutes as the Red Devils secured a 1-0 home win last Thursday, but he is still on a "mission" to become a fixture in Solskjaer's set up.

"I probably would have liked to have been in the starting XI for Premier League games," Tuanzebe told the Manchester Evening News ahead of a Carabao Cup third-round clash against Rochdale on Wednesday.

"We’ve had a process with the manager, that process has been put in place. The game against Astana was again an opportunity to get my practice in to show people what I’m capable of, that I’m good enough to play for the club. And hopefully, Rochdale will be another opportunity to demonstrate that again.

"The manager tries to pick a side that he believes is best suited to win games. Pre-season, I tried to demonstrate what I was capable of. Harry [Maguire] is a great player, an experienced player, he comes in and takes the number one choice.

"But, for me, it doesn’t change my task, it doesn’t change my mission, where or what I want to be. And I know it’s a process, I know it can take a long time. I know in time my opportunities will come and when they come it’s really down to me to grasp it and take that first-team role."

Tuanzebe is expected to return to United's line up against League One strugglers Rochdale at Old Trafford, with Solskjaer set to blood a number of younger stars once again.

The centre-back also revealed his long-held aspirations to captain United one day, having fought with Marcus Rashford for leadership duties during their days in the academy.

"It's a personal ambition of mine," Tuanzebe added. "I've captained every age group of my Manchester United career. I started from Under-11s... maybe even younger, actually. Under-9s. So to captain one last team would be a great personal achievement for myself.

"Marcus [Rashford] has always been there as well, in terms of he has a different way to lead and different types of leadership. He sets an example by playing well every game. I had a different type of leadership, I'd always speak to people and bring the best out of them with simple words and I would also try and demonstrate on the pitch."

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