Ole confirms three starters for Astana clash
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that at least two of Manchester United's up-and-coming youngsters will feature in our Europa League match against Astana.
The boss revealed in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday that Sergio Romero. Axel Tuanzebe, Mason Greenwood will definitely start in our opening Group L game of the competition, as he aims to utilise our squad due to a congested schedule.
"He’s [Axel] going to start," Ole said. "It's great for us because I have a big squad and we had pre-season, which went really well. Everyone was fighting for places. Then the closer we got to the league, we had to make a decision about the starting XI.
"Axel is one of them who just didn’t make the starting XI but he played well. Now it's a chance for some of of them and we’ll have a game every four or five days now, so we’ll see some more use of the squad now. And we’ll see a few young ones tomorrow."
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Tuanzebe featured in five of our six pre-season friendlies during the summer, following a successful 18 months on loan at Aston Villa, and the defender's confidence will be boosted, as he made his first competitive appearance of the season, as a late substitute against Leicester City last weekend.
When asked about 17-year-old striker Greenwood, Ole added: "Mason will play, definitely. It’ll be his first start since Cardiff and he also needs game time."
It has been an exciting opening to 2019/20 for our young finisher. Mason scored two goals on tour, against Inter Milan and Leeds United, and has since gone on to play in four of our first five Premier League fixtures, with the boss now ready to hand him his first start of the season.
"When you’ve got strikers who can score goals you should never lose the hunger," Ole said. "Never lose the appetite of creating chances and be ready to take your chances. Mason is one of the best finishers I’ve seen and I’ve played with quite a few decent ones. Just work hard every single day.
"He’s still very young, Mason. He’s maturing and he’s developed so much in the last six months since I came in. I remember the kid who just wanted to play with his mates in the Under-18s and now he’s knocking on the door and is ready to play in these games.
"I just don’t want to put too much pressure on him - just go out there and enjoy yourself and work hard, close down, because I know you’re going to score when the ball lands at your feet. I know you’re going to make the right finish."
As for Romero, our capable deputy keeper made six appearances in all competitions last term, and Ole confirmed that the Argentinian will be involved in our Europa League opener, despite David De Gea recently committing his future to the club by signing a new long-term contract.
"Sergio will play tomorrow," he said. "He’s proven to be a top keeper behind David. To keep him ready if something happens to David. Of course, tomorrow is a chance for me to give some much-needed game time because David has been very robust. To give him [Sergio] the chance is great and he’s always been reliable."
Another player who might feature against the Kazakhstan champions is our Brazilian midfielder, Fred. The 26-year-old was involved for the first time this season against Leicester City, when he came on for Nemanja Matic with 25 minutes to go, and the manager was pleased with how the South American acquitted himself after a period of time away from the first team.
"Fred came on and did well," the Norwegian said. "We needed his legs and his sharpness and he’s been patient. He’s been working hard. He’s not a young boy, but he’s still young in his English career and, hopefully, it will kickstart his season tomorrow.
"I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott [McTominay] - the PSG and Arsenal games for example. We’re waiting for that to flourish."
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