Early team news for the Manchester derby

Thursday 04 November 2021 12:00

Manchester United are focused on the derby with City at the weekend after returning from our trip to Italy in the Champions League.

The Reds secured a precious point with a 2-2 draw at Atalanta and can now concentrate on our last fixture before the final international break of the year.

Pep Guardiola's City beat Club Brugge 4-1 on Wednesday, a game the Blues boss described as their biggest of the week. However, it will be all eyes on Old Trafford for the 12:30 GMT kick-off on Saturday.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opted to start with a three-man central defence in our last two games, the 3-0 win at Tottenham and draw in Bergamo. Victor Lindelof's absence on Tuesday, due to a knock sustained in training, allowed Eric Bailly to come in and perform excellently. However, Raphael Varane was withdrawn in the first half at the Gewiss Stadium after "feeling his hamstring", according to Ole after the game, and he has now been ruled out for a month.

Hopefully, Lindelof will be fit in time - and he has been named in the Sweden squad for their upcoming internationals.

Paul Pogba may have played in Italy but he sits out the second of his three-match domestic suspension, following his red card against Liverpool.

Fred is a contender to feature after being left on the bench in Bergamo, while Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek made a positive impression in short cameos at the end of the 2-2 draw. Mason Greenwood also helped set up the two goals after he came on as substitute in midweek and Edinson Cavani linked well with Cristiano Ronaldo in our last league outing at Spurs, scoring a beautiful goal.

With Nemanja Matic another option to replace Pogba, it all adds up to plenty for the manager to ponder when selecting his squad. Amad also travelled to his former team after proving his fitness with a run-out in the Under-23s, against Tottenham last Saturday.

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The Blues reported a clean bill of health going into their Champions League tie with Club Brugge, with Ferran Torres the one exception, as he is sidelined with a foot injury, sustained while on international duty with Spain.

Kyle Walker played 80 minutes at the Etihad Stadium but picked up a knock, with Guardiola saying post-match: "We are going to review the players, especially Kyle because he has a big kick in his foot."

The visitors, like United, are also missing a player due to suspension as centre-back Aymeric Laporte was sent off in the surprise home defeat to Crystal Palace last time out. John Stones is the obvious replacement for the Spain international, although Nathan Ake is another option.