Early team news for United v Astana at Old Trafford
Manchester United’s Europa League campaign begins on Thursday and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently deliberating over his plans to face Kazakhstani side Astana at Old Trafford.
The manager could use the competition to distribute playing time to other members of the first-team squad, after picking fairly similar starting XIs in the five Premier League outings this season.
Some of Solskjaer’s decisions may be enforced by our current list of injuries and illnesses, after Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial all missed last Saturday’s Premier League victory over in-form Leicester City at the Theatre of Dreams.
Fans will get a glimpse of Ole’s potential plans when the squad trains in front of the European football media from 11:00 BST on Wednesday. That work-out will be followed by a press conference in the Jimmy Murphy Centre from 13:30 BST.
It appears likely that Solskjaer will make several changes to the starting XI for the visit of Astana on Thursday night, as the 2019/20 Europa League campaign begins at home.
Sergio Romero has often featured in this competition in the past and the experienced 32-year-old could deputise for David De Gea, should the manager choose to rest the Spain international.
In defence, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are yet to play this season so this could be a good opportunity for them, while Axel Tuanzebe might also be in line to start after registering his first appearance of the campaign as a substitute against the Foxes.
In the forward roles, Academy graduates Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood all hope to further their educations by being involved at some point. Fellow youth product Jesse Lingard will also be hungry to impress the manager, after he was omitted from the squad against Leicester.
Marcus Rashford has started every match so far this season and, with a challenging Premier League game at West Ham United this Sunday, it will be interesting to see if the 21-year-old gets the nod.
Team news is expected to be announced at around 19:00 BST on Thursday.
FOCUS ON THE OPPOSITION
This is United's first match against a club from Kazakhstan and also Astana's first against a side from England.
Our opponents warmed up for their trip to Old Trafford by recording a 2-1 win over Shakhter Karagandy on Sunday, which left them in third place after 24 matches in the Kazakhstan Premier League - a championship they have proudly won in the previous five seasons.
Astana will fly to Manchester on Wednesday and manager Roman Hryhorchuk will conduct his press conference at the stadium around 19:00 BST, before the squad trains on the pitch at 20:00 BST.
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