Confirmed: United team to play Astana
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named his XI to take on Astana in freezing temperatures in Nur-Sultan.
The boss revealed in Wednesday's press conference that Lee Grant, Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt would all start in the Europa League clash. Experienced keeper Grant is set to make his full debut for the club, while the others have their very first involvement with the senior side.
Luke Shaw returns at left-back following a hamstring problem, while Jesse Lingard captains the team for the first time and Mason Greenwood spearheads the attack.
Nine of the team have come through United's famous Academy, as have all seven substitutes, including Max Taylor, who recently returned to football after receiving cancer treatment.
The average age of the team is 21.6 years, with the outfield average, discounting 36-year-old goalkeeper Grant, being a mere 20.2.
The game, being played on an artificial surface and under a roof, which will help boost the temperature pitchside to around 15 degrees, kicks off at 21:50 local time, 15:50 GMT.
Speaking to MUTV about his unfamiliar line-up, Solskjaer said:
"I enjoyed training yesterday. It’s a group that’s been together a long time, so they know each other well. They have some experience with them in Axel, Jesse, Lee and Luke.
"For the kids, it’s a great occasion. We struggle to give them enough games against men. Today we’re playing against men. An experienced team, physical team, in front of 35,000 people, so it’s a great education for them.
"Some older men, even if they’re not the quickest and most mobile, they can see what’s going to happen before it does. I remember myself coming up as a youngster, I would see older men playing and it’s a different way of playing football. So for these kids, it will be a good night."
As for the prospect of other young players making their debuts from the bench, Ole added: “Some might have to come on if we need a goal, the forwards. Others might have to come on because we might be under pressure. They’re all ready and I think they’re all hoping to get on of course and I can’t wait to see them.”
Solskjaer: Why I've picked our starting XI
In the Astana Arena tunnel, Ole explains the thinking behind our starting XI and what he expects from the side...
United: Grant; Laird, Bernard, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Garner, Levitt; Chong, Lingard (c), Gomes; Greenwood.
Substitutes: Kovar, Mengi, Taylor, Galbraith, Puigmal, Mellor, Ramazani.
Astana: Eric; Rukavina, Logvinenko, Postnikov, Shomko; Maevski, Sigurjonsson; Beysebekov, Rotariu, Murtazayev; Khizhnichenko.
Substitutes: Mokin, Muzhikov, Pertsukh, Zhakipbayev, Janga, Zhalmukan, Prokopenko.
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