Early team news for United's Molineux trip

Thursday 29 December 2022 13:00

Manchester United will travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers this Saturday, 31 December, when Erik ten Hag's men will be looking to build on the momentum of two wins from two since domestic football resumed.

The New Year's Eve match at Molineux also offers an opportunity for the Reds to finish 2022 on a high and, given the game kicks off at 12:30 GMT, there's a chance to enter the coveted top four places in the Premier League before the rest of the pack play their weekend fixtures.

However, the impact of new Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui is sure to make our hosts tricky opponents, despite their current position of 18th in the table. 

With the effects of the World Cup and winter break beginning to wear off, let's take a look at how the two squads are shaping up for our final match of this calendar year.

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A huge boost for Ten Hag in the 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on 21 December was the return of Raphael Varane to the starting XI.

The Frenchman was the first finalist from the World Cup in Qatar to resume playing for his club and he looked impressive and composed as ever, even though he had an unfamiliar partner at the heart of the defence in the form of left-back Luke Shaw.

Varane lasted for 77 minutes before he was replaced by club captain Harry Maguire, who was named as a substititute as his recovery from illness continued.

The notable omissions from United’s squad against Forest were Scott McTominay and Victor Lindelof, both of whom were ill, and longer-term absentees Jadon Sancho and Axel Tuanzebe.

World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez was also not involved on Tuesday night, but the Argentinian returned to first-team training at Carrington the following day.

The squad against Forest featured three young players in Rhys Bennett, Zidane Iqbal and Alejandro Garnacho, with the latter seeing some action as a 65th-minute replacement for Antony.

Further updates on the United squad could be revealed as we approach Saturday’s match versus Wolves. You can watch Ten Hag's pre-match press conference in two parts from 13:30 and 22:30 GMT on Friday.


While our opponents' start to the season has not been what they would have hoped for, the recent arrival of manager Julen Lopetegui means they are very much a threat.

The former Real Madrid boss won his first Premier League match in charge, defeating Everton 2-1 away on Boxing Day with goals from Daniel Podence and, deep into second-half injury time, Rayan Ait-Nouri.

For that last-gasp win at Goodison Park, Lopetegui only made one change to the side which defeated Gillingham 2-0 in the Carabao Cup six days prior, with Hwang Hee-chan replacing Goncalo Guedes on the wing.

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Ex-Chelsea striker Diego Costa has spearheaded Wolves’s attack in the last two fixtures, and is expected to continue doing so against United this weekend.

But Lopetegui has long-term injury worries to contend with too. Chiquinho, Pedro Neto and Sasa Kalajdzic are all ruled out, while Boubacar Traore and Jonny face a race against time to be fit for selection.

Podence, who scored Wolves' first-half equaliser at Everton, is a doubt but could yet be involved against United.