Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks at the pre-match press conference at Astana Arena in Kazakhstan

Solskjaer's team news for Astana encounter

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained his squad selection for the Europa League game against Astana.

With the Reds already safely qualified for the knockout stages of the competition, the boss has named an 18-man party for the clash in Kazakhstan. The experienced Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw, who is back in the fold after a long lay-off, are the only players in the group who have made more than 20 first-team appearances for United.

Jesse Lingard in action at Sheffield United.
Jesse Lingard is one of the senior players on the trip.

There will be a youthful look to the line-up with a number of our successful Under-23 players handed valuable experience at this level.

Meanwhile, Lee Grant, at the age of 36, will make his first start for the club he supported as a boy, while Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt will make their debuts.

“It’s common sense,”
asserted Ole.
“We’ve done great to qualify after four games and it gives us an opportunity to give game time to experienced lads who need it. Axel [Tuanzebe], Luke and Jesse have not really had too many games and are coming back from injuries.

“It’s a great chance for me to give Lee his first start for the club. It’s hard with young kids to give them enough games against men, professional games. We’ve got the EFL Trophy but, for me, this is a great chance to see them all together.”
James Garner and Mason Greenwood.
James Garner and Mason Greenwood already have European experience under their belts.

Max Taylor is in the squad after his recovery from cancer treatment, which is something that warrants special attention.

“It's a fantastic story,” added the boss. “To see him coming back. I met Max very early after I got the job to have seen his journey back to full fitness and the way he's conducted himself.

”It's something that he'll always have with him. He's been through something no-one should have to go through. He has come through the other end and is an inspiration to all the players. You can see now when he goes out on the football pitch, there is no fear anymore. He has seen it and he's allowed to have fear in his life. When you're on the pitch, you should enjoy yourself.

“I hope we can see him progress in his career and it's a chance for us to give him some extra motivation as well.”

When asked about home fans cramming into the stadium to watch the game and what they can expect from the much-changed XI, the manager was clear on his message.

“You might be seeing the start of something special,” he said. “I hope it's worth it, whenever you watch Manchester United. It's what we are hoping to give our fans, the players and a team to support.”

PREDICT THE LINE-UP

Now you've read this story, can you work out who'll be in the United side to face FC Astana? Enter your XI and formation at manutd.com/teamselector for your chance to win exclusive prizes.

Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.

Recommended:

Related Keywords