Carrick, Herrera and Fellaini are all currently sidelined through injury while Anderson isn’t good enough, leaving only Daley Blind and Darren Fletcher as United’s fit, natural central midfielders.
Last week Van Gaal gave 19-year-old Paddy McNair a full debut in which he excelled which has led to questions over whether the boss could do the same thing against Everton with another youngster.
We take a look at the young midfielders from United’s academy sides that Van Gaal could use.
The outstanding candidate for an opportunity is Ben Pearson. A tenacious, battling midfielder, Pearson is a fantastic young player who deserves an opportunity with the first-team sooner rather than later.
With United’s Under-21s, Pearson has the energy and drive to bring the ball forward but never lets his defensive responsibilities slip. In his most recent match against Tottenham Hotspur, it was hard to keep track of how many times he intercepted the ball or won it fairly in a tackle.
Pearson will get a chance with United’s first-team, it’s a case of when, not if, and there’s no time like the present…
The 18-year-old has featured on the first-team bench for United’s last two games in what has been a big vote of confidence from Van Gaal in his ability, although he is yet to feature.
With the Under-21s, Pereira has enjoyed a good start to the season which has clearly earned him a chance in Van Gaal’s books. He has already used Pereira in the Capital One Cup so he must see something in him.
A more attack minded midfielder, Pereira would offer something completely different to Pearson.
Pearson’s usual midfield partner, Rothwell is an extremely reliable player and their partnership last year for the Under-21s was great to watch.
His absence for the Under-21s final last season was considered to be a major reason United lost 3-2 to Chelsea as they missed his presence.
Rothwell is an all-round midfielder who brings an air of reliability and confidence with him.
Further down the ranks, Harrop is one to keep an eye on. He has only broken through into United’s Under-21s this season but has already earned himself an England Under-20 call-up through his performances.