Roy Hodgson has revealed that England’s management shared Louis van Gaal’s concerns about Luke Shaw’s fitness during the World Cup and had approached the young left-back about the way he was looking after himself.
Van Gaal has repeatedly questioned Shaw’s fitness since taking over as Manchester United manager, putting him on an individually tailored programme as one of his first jobs after replacing David Moyes.
Shaw’s difficult start at Old Trafford has been compounded by a hamstring injury that has ruled him out of their first three games and Hodgson believes the issues went back to the player’s days at Southampton.
“I think you need to speak to Mauricio Pochettino [the former Southampton manager] who spent a lot of time with Luke as they brought him in as a 16 or 17 year old. I know Pochettino worked hard with him on the fitness and conditioning side of the game,” the England manager said.
“I think a lot of Luke’s situation is purely down to the fact that he is still young, his body is changing but I think he’s aware that the work rate which is required does mean that he’s got to work very hard on that aspect of his game.
“I think when he [Van Gaal] talks to Pochettino that Pochettino will say to him: ‘What you were saying about Luke Shaw and what you’ve been saying to him, is what I was actually saying to him.’ He [Shaw] might also have had it mentioned to him a couple of times during the World Cup, by people like myself and [England’s physiotherapist] Gary Lewin. So I think he’s been aware of it.”
Shaw’s injury explains why Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur has been called up as an understudy for Leighton Baines in the left-back role, at a time when Kieran Gibbs is also unavailable because of his own hamstring injury.
Hodgson is now hoping the 19-year-old Shaw, signed by United for an initial £27m earlier in the summer, will listen to Van Gaal’s advice. “I must say watching him for Southampton in the games that persuaded me to pick him for the World Cup, and watching him in our game against Costa Rica, he didn’t seem to have too many problems coping with the physical side of the game. That doesn’t mean to say he can’t be fitter and if Louis thinks that he can get him fitter then I’m sure he will certainly have our approval.
“He will get fitter and stronger, not least of all because he’s still a very young man and his body has not yet reached its proper proportions for the level at which he wants to play.”