It has been a frustrating start to life for Diogo Dalot at Manchester United.
The Portuguese youngster was one of three signings made by Jose Mourinho during the 56-year-old's final transfer window as manager, but has been unable to build upon a promising debut campaign after torrid luck with injuries.
Speaking in the summer the player's agent outlined his hope for "a statement year" at the club yet Dalot has only made three appearances in all competitions this season.
A hip injury prevented him from featuring at the beginning of the campaign before suffering a groin injury which has left him sidelined since defeat by Newcastle on October 6.
Yet as he nears his latest return from injury the hunger has never been stronger for Dalot to get a run of games under his belt and force his way back into first-team reckoning.
In his absence, summer signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka has solidified his grip on the right back role, while academy star Ethan Laird has shown glimpses of promise at both senior and youth levels.
Dalot will be hoping to get some game time in the cup competitions in the New Year but it could be away from the right side of defence where he truly makes his mark on the United first-team.
A difficult start to the season for Luke Shaw has given Brandon Williams regular opportunities at left-back, but in recent weeks neither of the duo have managed to make the spot their own.
Ashley Young remains perhaps the most consistent performer on the left side of defence but with his contract set to expire at the end of the season he is nothing more than a utility option.
United's pursuit of a new left-back signing was put on hold following the breakthrough of Williams and the capabilities of Dalot would certainly bolster the options available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Dalot first broke through at Porto playing on the left and memorably kept a clean sheet against Sadio Mane and Liverpool in the Champions League group stages in March 2018.
The 20-year-old also offers an exciting alternative to Wan-Bissaka on the right in that Dalot's strengths are in attacking in contrast to the excellent defensive work currently on offer.
In any games which United need added attacking potency Dalot not only offers a more direct threat from the bench, but he has shown crossing capabilities which could indicate his best role is actually as a right winger.
There is also a fair argument to suggest Dalot is better suited to Wan-Bissaka as a wing-back given his overlapping tendencies and desire to perpetually push forward when in position of the ball. Either way the Portuguese certainly has a valuable role to play at Old Trafford.
For the youngster all that matters now is getting back on the pitch as he hopes to put his unfortunate injury record behind him. If Dalot manages to do that there is a regular place in the first-team squad waiting for him, and his versatility could make him priceless to Solskjaer.