In October, Scott McTominay was linked with a January loan move to Aston Villa, with Jose Mourinho unable to find a regular spot for the Scotland international at Manchester United.
The Portuguese is clearly a fan of the towering midfielder – he named him his Player of the Season at Old Trafford last season – but the likes of Nemanja Matic have been too difficult to dislodge despite United’s poor performance level this time around.
Much of the limited gametime he has been afforded has been as a centre half and that was where he was deployed in Saturday evening’s 2-2 draw against struggling Southampton.
That tactical redeployment should be of particular interest to Dean Smith, who is in dire need of central defenders after his predecessor Steve Bruce – who of course has United connections himself – left him with a real lack of defensive depth.
McTominay has been arguably United’s best defender in the two matches where he has played a full 90 minutes at centre-half – against West Ham as well as the Saints – and his ability on the ball would make him a hugely impressive Championship central defender.
Having Axel Tuanzebe already at Villa Park and being able to learn from John Terry alongside Smith would also be good for McTominay’s development.
Mourinho’s tactical decision could hand Smith’s promotion bid the power of good.