Early team news for the 183rd Manchester derby
United midfielder Fred could return to the starting XI for Saturday’s Manchester derby, after missing the club’s two previous matches in the Premier League and Champions League.
The Brazilian midfielder was omitted from the line-up for our 3-1 win at West Ham as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer favoured taller players for the occasion, with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay starting instead.
Fred was then suspended for the midweek match against RB Leipzig in Germany, due to the one-match UEFA suspension that he earned during the Paris Saint-Germain game at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to recall Fred, given he has appeared in 14 of 17 matches across all competitions this season – a record only bettered by Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The boss is currently formulating his plans for Saturday’s derby as the squad continues preparations at the Aon Training Complex.
We should glean an insight into the manager’s thinking on Friday afternoon, during a pre-match press conference that you can watch from 13:30 GMT.
Everyone wants to know if Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial are available for action against City, after the duo missed the trip to Germany in midweek due to injury. There has been no update from the manager on their condition.
Homegrown duo Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford started at Red Bull Arena, and both of the Academy graduates will be desperate to feature in the clash with Pep Guardiola’s Blues.
Meanwhile, if Solskjaer reverts to a back four, then Ole has a decision to make with the left-back position after Luke Shaw returned from injury this week. The England international had been missing since Everton away on 7 November and new signing Alex Telles has performed admirably in his absence.
The South American defender hopes to make his first appearance in a Manchester derby, as he told us: “In Brazil, we say that you don’t play in derbies you win them, so we’ll definitely go into the game with this mentality.
“It’s certainly an important game and an important milestone in my career. I know how historically important the derby game is.”
EARLY TEAM NEWS FROM CITY
Guardiola claims Sergio Aguero will not start at Old Trafford on Saturday, despite his star striker returning from injury to score during Wednesday's Champions League win over Marseille.
The 32-year-old Argentina international has been struggling with knee and hamstring problems all campaign, but stepped off the bench for his fifth appearance of 2020/21.
Happy to be back, happy for the W. My knee is feeling better and I'm gradually getting back into condition. My gratitude goes to the physios, the medical and technical staff, my team-mates and the fans for all your support 🤟🏽 #ManCity #UCL pic.twitter.com/dtuLIB3L0W— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) December 9, 2020
Asked if he will start against United, Pep said: “No, Today, he played 25 minutes, scored a goal – so it is step by step. His instinct to score will always be there - he made three, four good sessions and after the training sessions reaction was good.”
Ahead of that European Cup clash, Guardiola claimed he does not rest players but went on to make nine changes against the Ligue 1 side – so it remains to be seen how true his Aguero statement is.
Eric Garcia and Ilkay Gundogan are both doubts after they were forced off with knocks against Marseille. Guardiola may provide an update during his own press conference on Friday afternoon.
Watch Solskjaer's press conference from 13:30 GMT on Friday.