Injury update for United's Europa League opener
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has provided an update on the fitness of his squad , on the eve of our opening Europa League fixture with Astana at Old Trafford.
The Reds worked out in front of the cameras at the Aon Training Complex before the boss spoke to the media in the afternoon.
Some clues were naturally garnered from the session with Daniel James's absence one of the talking points, while there were also several positives.
Ready for Europe Gallery
See which players are pictured in the final session before Thursday's Europa League tie.
The good news is Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot were back with the squad and could be options for the boss to consider as he is likely to shuffle his pack, with another game to come on Sunday, away to West Ham United in the Premier League.
Youngsters such as Axel Tuanzebe, Angel Gomes, James Garner, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood may also be in the frame while youth-teamer Charlie Wellens was also working with the senior players. The 16-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a good start to life in Neil Ryan's Academy team, scoring three times already this term.
“It’s what we do at this club,” Ole commented at his press conference.
“It’s what we do: drop him in, train with the first team and get a little taste for it. Obviously, I know his dad [Swindon Town manager Richie] from when he played, and we know Charlie is very good footballer. I think today was a very good day for him. I remember when I was in the first team and suddenly Febian Brandy is there at 15 years old. It’s just one of these little drips to making players.”
Among those not taking part in the main session were Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, who have previously been earmarked for a potential return from injury in Sunday's encounter at the London Stadium.
However, Pogba was seen working away from the large group, as was Luke Shaw who has also been sidelined recently, due to a hamstring problem. In-form James did not appear during the part of the session that was open to the media but Ole hopes he can be back for the game with the Hammers.
“We still have a few players out,” the manager told MUTV.
“Jesse is back, which is great. He had a bad time when he was with England but, hopefully, we’ll get him on the pitch to try to kickstart his season again.The youngsters are raring to go. They all want to play. But I don’t think we’ll see Paul or Anthony, I’m sure we won’t see them. Luke is not ready yet. Dan is touch and go. He missed training today and [his recovery] might be longer than expected but hopefully [he’ll be back for] the weekend.
“Diogo is back,” Ole added.
“He’s been training for a little while now but we needed assurances before we threw him in. We probably could have had him on the bench against Leicester last time, but now he’s ready.I think it’s a chance for me to use the squad and give some minutes, of course, to some of the young players. We all know, if they take a chance, it might be the start of something big. Hopefully, we can see the young kids go out and enjoy themselves.
“We don’t know too much about Astana but they’re the second seeds in the group. They’ve always been really good at home, but struggled a bit away from home, so hopefully we’ll make their start to these group stages difficult.”
As for our visitors Astana, who have won their domestic league five years running, the danger man is Croatian striker Marin Tomasov. He scored seven goals in Europa League qualifying matches, a tally that was only bettered by Alfredo Morelos's eight strikes for Rangers.
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