With Robin van Persie missing the next month, it is time for United's Japanese star to step up and prove his worth in his favoured position.
Shinji Kagawa is something of an enigma. The majority of Manchester United fans would tell you he is one of their best players – and yet that opinion appears to be born more from the past than the present.
At Borussia Dortmund, the Japanese playmaker was outstanding, and the announcement of his arrival at Old Trafford was greeted with plenty of excitement from those in the know.
And yet apart from flickers of greatness – most notably a hat-trick scored against Norwich City and a master-class of creativity in the recent Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen – Kagawa has thus far fallen short.
It has nothing to do with talent. He has that in abundance. But what he needs is faith, time, a sustained run in the team.
And now he has that too, with the news that Robin van Persie will be out injured for the next month.
That disappointing news also comes with hope attached – the hope that with Wayne Rooney up front and Kagawa in behind him, United can finally play with the creative flow needed to turn their season around.
Kagawa has begun to suggest he is ready to step up wherever he is asked to play. But in the coming weeks he is likely to be placed in his preferred position, and it is up to him to prove he should stay there for the long term.
image: © Marcel Sigg