Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Early team news for Aston Villa friendly

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken to us exclusively about how his team is shaping up ahead of Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.

The Reds have been given an extra week to prepare for our Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on 19 September.

The Villans are also out of action as they were set to face Manchester City and so the sides will convene at Villa Park tomorrow for what is to be our only preparation for the new campaign – and you can watch the full match on MUTV from 22:00 BST.

Ole had some good news on the injury front, revealing that Luke Shaw is set to play after missing the back-end of last season with an ankle problem.

Our trip to the West Midlands comes a little too soon for Axel Tuanzebe, although the homegrown centre-back is approaching a first-team return in the coming weeks.

“For me, Luke is looking really good in training. He has come back, looking strong, and will play in the friendly against Villa,” Ole told us.

“Then Axel is getting closer as well. In a few weeks’ time, I guess he will be with us training full-time and hopefully we’ll be able to give him games quickly.”

While it’s been under four weeks since our 2019/20 campaign drew to a close in Cologne, Solskjaer sees the contest against Dean Smith’s side as vital for match fitness.

Ten Reds played international matches over the last week and they could be involved on Saturday – with fans set to get the chance to see Donny van de Beek in a United shirt for the first time.

Ole added that the friendly was also an opportunity for those who didn’t feature for their countries to rack up some game-time.

“It’s going to be a game to give players minutes,” Solskjaer added.

“Some have trained more than others and some will be more ready than others. Some played international games, which actually sometimes you think you don’t really want that but some of them have got valuable minutes there.

“We’ll give the others minutes against Villa so they can all start on a decent level because it’s going to be a long season.”

Of course, before any other season the Reds would be coming off the back of five or six friendlies, played in various countries throughout the world.

But this season – already shortened by one month from the usual August to May cycle – is unlike any other and Solskjaer says he and his players are going to have to adjust as best they can.

“Then again, it’s the world we live in. That’s the reality of it, no point arguing or discussing it or being miserable or moaning about it. This is the reality.

“We’re going to make the most of it. Of course, the first few games are going to be important to give as many players minutes as well because it’s such a long season.

“We’re going to need most of them throughout the season.”

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