It could be now or never against Norwich for Wilfried Zaha as David Moyes takes look at the future

 

It is barely a year since he appeared to have elite football at his feet, when signed by Sir Alex Ferguson and selected by Roy Hodgson to play seven minutes of England’s full international against Sweden. But Wilfried Zaha’s Manchester United future could be over before it begins if he does not start or perform against Norwich City in the Capital One Cup tonight.

United manager David Moyes has not given the impression that he is ready to start with Zaha against a Norwich City side who are likely to be weakened, with the more serious business of Premier League survival in their minds after slipping to third from bottom in the early running.

If the 20-year-old does not play a part, it is hard to see where he might feasibly fit in at all for United before January, at which point the manager has indicated he may be willing to let him leave Old Trafford on loan. A loan return to Crystal Palace seems unlikely, because it will not be a sign of the player moving forward.

But wherever he might go, there can be no guarantees that Ferguson’s last signing will make it back. By next summer, Moyes will be looking to re-shape the side and bring in his own players during the first United transfer window with his name on it.

Zaha’s struggle to convince Moyes has been puzzling. He featured on some of United’s pre-season tour and the new manager initially seemed convinced. The Old Trafford crowd did, too, during his second half appearance in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial match against Seville in early August. But though he also appeared in the Community Shield against Wigan Athletic, Moyes subsequently concluded he was not ready.

One of the suggestions is that Zaha is not capable of retaining the ball.  At 20, he is not exactly in the “one to watch” category and as an impact player who thrives on confidence, this struggle will have been profoundly difficult for him.

“I just don’t think we have had the right opportunity to get him on as much as we would have liked,” Moyes said yesterday. “We don’t want to put him in too quickly. We want to make it the right time. I’ve said I would look at it in January as I wanted to have him here for six months to see how we work.”

This is Moyes’ first opportunity to blood young players, with the previous round’s pairing with Liverpool decreeing that he must commit to experience. But his own quest to secure a first trophy – Ferguson has declared publicly hat his target for the season must be to win one of any description – points to him foregoing the kind of youthful line up which his predecessor tried on occasions like this. “We have got a squad of first team players who are all capable of playing, everyone is used to that, the crowd see that and expect it. We will see what we have got,” Moyes said.

He is likely to start with Javier Hernandez, with Robin van Persie very likely to be given a night off and Wayne Rooney possibly on the bench.

Chris Hughton has doubts about midfielder Alex Tettey (ankle) and striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel (toe) and other changes may be afoot, with Steven Whittaker and Nathan Redmond among those who could start.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world