Erik ten Hag told he can't play Manchester United defender due to strange rule

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag -Credit:Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United's young defender Sonny Aljofree is understood to be ineligible for the first team due to an agreement with National League club Altrincham.

In February, Aljofree joined the play-off challenging fifth-tier club on loan until the end of the season as part of a joint-registration deal. The idea behind this is that the 19-year-old gains experience in competitive football while also benefitting from experience around Carrington and with the under-21s.

However, the only issue is that while Aljofree can play for the Academy in the Premier League 2 he cannot feature for the first team. When this deal was agreed upon, this would not have been seen as much of an issue but the injury crisis at Old Trafford has severely affected Erik ten Hag's defensive options.

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Lisandro Martinez, Jonny Evans, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are all unavailable, meaning the youth team has been turned to to help out. Willy Kambwala has made seven Premier League appearances this season while Harry Amass, Habeeb Ogunneye and Ethan Wheatley were all named on the bench in the draw against AFC Bournemouth.

According to The Sun, Aljofree would have also been in contention for a place in the matchday squad against Liverpool in the FA Cup if it had not been for this rule.

Manchester United's young defender Sonny Aljofree
Manchester United's young defender Sonny Aljofree -Credit:Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images

In the summer transfer window, it is expected that Ten Hag will look to strengthen his defence. Varane's contract expires at the end of the campaign and it is unclear at this stage whether or not the option to extend his stay by a further year will be approved.