x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

United have twin options at the back

It is difficult to tell Manchester United's teenage twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva apart when they are not wearing their No 20 or No 21 shirts.

It is difficult to tell Manchester United's teenage twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva apart when they are not wearing their No 20 or No 21 shirts. With Fabio having married, manager Sir Alex Ferguson often guesses by which one is wearing the ring. The referee Chris Foy did not have that advantage in Tuesday's Carling Cup match against Barnsley, booking Fabio for a foul committed by Rafael.

But there is no mistaking the quality of this pair. At 19, they are United's future, but yet it would not be foolhardy for Ferguson to make them major participants in the present. Rafael could start against Blackburn today with the incentive to continue his rise and give United a freshness that their defence looks like it needs. With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic looking far from the assured partnership of the past, the younger, perhaps hungrier, players offer a timely challenge for first-team places.

The Brazilian boys do that, and Ferguson needs to utilise such options after last Sunday's 2-0 loss at Liverpool. So too Michael Owen against Blackburn who have conceded 11 goals in their last two away league games. akhan@thenational.ae Man Utd v Blackburn, KO 9.30pm, Showsports 1 & 2