Paul Pogba will be the biggest miss for Manchester United in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg against PSG at Parc des Princes.
Manchester United will have it all to do if they are to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals when they travel to Parc des Princes to take on PSG in the Round of 16 second leg on Wednesday night. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer though, has seen his squad dismantled by injuries, leaving him down to his bare bones for the European tie.
Only one department has no concerns whatsoever, with all three first-team goalkeepers, David de Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant available. De Gea should thus, start between the sticks for the visitors, with Romero being his backup on the bench.
The issues start in defence, with as many as three players missing out. The absence of Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian does not pose much of a problem, with neither full-back being a regular; nor does the unavailability of Phil Jones, with Chris Smalling establishing himself as Victor Lindelof’s partner at the heart of the defence.
Smalling and Lindelof ought to line up as the central defensive partnership once again, with Ashley Young and Luke Shaw being the full-backs. While the first-choice defenders are likely to start, a largely unknown name is part of the Manchester United travelling squad – Brandon Williams.
The young full-back, who can play on either flank is not expected to feature, but was praised by Solskjaer during the interim manager’s pre-match press conference.
“Brandon is a full-back who can play both sides. He’s quick and this is the first time he has travelled with us. He didn’t expect to come but that’s part of being here that suddenly you’re called upon. That’s why you’re in the Academy, that we believe in you and suddenly you have to step up. That’s why we have good coaches for them, to make them ready.”
The major absentees are from the midfield department, with Paul Pogba suspended after being sent off in the first leg. In addition to Pogba, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic are out injured, leaving Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay as the realistic options to start, although academy graduate James Garner is in contention to feature as well.
The injury troubles do not stop affecting United in attack, with Alexis Sanchez the latest to be ruled out after picking up a knee injury this past weekend against Southampton. The Chilean has joined Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard on the sidelines, with Solskjaer providing an update on him.
“Yeah, it looks like he [Alexis] might be out for a bit. It was a bad knee injury, [so he could be out for] four weeks or six weeks. Hopefully he’ll recover quickly. We’ll have a good team out there. Alexis was the only one that we struggled to get fit for now.”
Academy graduates Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood and Angel Gomes are in contention to make their Champions League debut, but are only likely to start on the bench, with Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Diogo Dalot lining up in the front trio.