Ralf reveals more line-up clues
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has shed more light on his team selection for the final Group F game against Young Boys at Old Trafford.
The Reds are safely through to Monday's round-of-16 draw as group winners and, with Saturday's trip to Norwich City on the horizon, the tie represents a chance to rotate the squad, provide some valuable minutes to important players and see how the new coaching methods are already starting to have some influence on the shape and style of the side.
During his press conference to preview the game, Ralf confirmed Dean Henderson is to start the 20:00 GMT kick-off in goal, for his second outing of the campaign. Donny van de Beek is also lined up for a midfield slot.
"I need to get to know also the other players who didn’t play against Crystal Palace," he told MUTV's Stewart Gardner at Carrington. "It’s also wise, at this stage of the season with a crowded fixture list in the next weeks and months, to rest a few players.
"As you saw, the way we played against Crystal Palace was high intensity and it’s not so easy to play on that level with the same group of players every three days. So, for me, it absolutely makes sense to do some rotation; even more so in a game we still want to win. Our ethos is we have to win games at Manchester United but it’s not that much with regard to the group phase and what’s at stake for us. So it makes sense to give other players a chance to present themselves."
Getting down to specifics, when asked if the decision to introduce Anthony Elanga at a time when the Reds were chasing a crucial winner against Crystal Palace illustrated a faith in youth, Ralf suggested there will be a balance to his line-up on Wednesday night.
Mason Greenwood is guaranteed a start, with the boss keen to see more of the talented forward but both full-backs could be changed with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw primed to replace Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles, who have both impressed of late.
When asked about Elanga and Amad being in his thoughts, he declared: "Yes, both. The younger players, to give them game time. The same with Mason Greenwood, as he’s not played that much in the last couple of the weeks so he’ll also definitely play.
"But also a few experienced ones, who didn’t get that much game-time in the past. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] can play, hopefully even Luke Shaw will be available for the game. Nemanja [Matic] will be captain tomorrow. Juan Mata will get game-time, Jesse Lingard. We have quite a few players who will be playing who definitely desperately need game-time."
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United are hard at work preparing for the visit of Young Boys...
The squad will be strengthened further in the near future by the return of Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani from injury, with Anthony Martial also not expected to be out too long with a knee problem.
When it was indicated that the whole squad was going to prove useful over this period, Rangnick replied: "Exactly. It’s why I’m very much looking forward to having Rapha back again and Edi Cavani.
"So my ambition is to work with all the players for most of the season, reduce the number of injuries in the next couple of weeks and months, and having them all on board."