How will Ole approach the second leg?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his side's brilliant 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad in Turin last week won't be in the players' minds when Manchester United host the Spaniards at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
The Reds are already four goals to the good following our round-of-32 first leg last Thursday.
Ole is refusing to take anything for granted and also insists that any game is an opportunity for players to stake their claim for a place in the side for the upcoming matches.
During his pre-match sit-down with club media's Stewart Gardner, the boss also discusses possible changes to his team, Ethan Galbraith's likely inclusion, our visitors' approach and the five-year anniversary of Marcus Rashford's United debut...
Edinson [Cavani], Scott [McTominay] and Donny [van der Beek] were missing at the weekend – how are they doing?
“They’ll still be missing. They’ve not joined training so they won’t be ready, no.”
And how is Paul Pogba’s recovery going?
“He’s been outside on the grass and starting to step up his recovery but he’s not near the team for this game.”
Are there any new issues from the weekend?
“No. It’ll be more or less the same squad. That’s a positive – we got through that one with three points and no major concerns.”
People will naturally look at the tie and think this will be an opportunity to rest and rotate – how do you look at it?
“First of all, it’s a test because we know we’re playing a good team. We know we played really well, away in Italy, so we treat this one as a game we want to win. Of course, there will be a couple of changes because of the relentless fixture schedule. I don’t think anyone will be surprised by that, but we have to play a good game and keep building momentum, and every game is a chance to stake a claim to be in the team for next week.”
We’ve seen Amad and Shola [Shoretire] involved in recent squads – will this be another opportunity for them to be involved?
“They’re in the squad so, of course, there’s a possibility of them being on the pitch. It depends on the game. Of course, we’ve decided the starting XI but I’m not going to tell you that! [Smiles] But the likelihood is, hopefully, you’ll probably see one or two of them.”
The other youngsters like Ethan Galbraith and Hannibal – are they anywhere near joining in the first-team squad?
“Galbraith will be with us. Hannibal, unfortunately, injured his shoulder in the Reserves so he’ll be out for a few weeks. He was just on his way into the squad and training with us, but that’s football. He’ll come back stronger am sure and he knows he’s not far away.”
Is a strange situation with a game like this – do you almost have to pretend that it’s level?
“I don’t think players go into a game with the previous score in their head too much. We’ve analysed the game and we know we did well, there were some fine margins and I’m pretty sure our players would want to be part of the team. Of course, deep down we know we’re four goals up, but they beat Alaves 4-0 this week so they’re a team that can score goals.”
Looking at what they’ve been saying since the result over in Spain, it seems they are focused on trying to get some pride back as well, given it was a bit of a wounding result for them…
“Any professional footballer will just make sure he does his best in every single game and that’s what I expect from mine. When we start, we want to go in to this game to win it.”
It’ll be special for Adnan Januzaj coming back to Old Trafford. I’m not sure if he has any kind of point of prove, but he’ll certainly want to impress back on home ground…
“Yes, there are no fans there of course, but to be at Old Trafford, which is where he should have been and could have been playing, I’m sure he’ll play really well and he’ll try to play his best game. Anyone does that anyway, it’s always the next one you want to do your best performance in.”
It’ll be five years to the day since Marcus Rashford made his debut. Since then, he’s played more than 250 times for United and done so much. I suppose it shows what’s possible for a young player…
“You know, nothing is impossible. When you join this club, whether it’s when you’re 6, 7, 10 or 14, this is a place where dreams come true. Marcus has been really, really impressive in his five years and there’s more to come. He’s still young and he’ll still improve, and we’ll make sure there is more like him coming through.”