Paul Pogba is out injured again while Mason Greenwood will return to the starting lineup when Manchester United take on AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League.
Manchester United will be looking to continue a perfect start to their UEFA Europa League campaign when they lock horns with AZ Alkmaar at The Cars Jeans Stadion in their second Group L fixture on Thursday. And, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to be bothered by a spate of injuries heading into the midweek game.
There are no issues whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, with the Manchester United boss having all of his resources available to him. David de Gea is part of the travelling squad picked by Solskjaer, but is likely to be replaced by Sergio Romero against AZ Alkmaar, as is customary for Europa League games.
The back four ought to see a couple of changes. Axel Tuanzebe should keep hold of his place, but is expected to slot in as the centre-back against AZ after being deployed as the left-back in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal. But, with Phil Jones out injured, one of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will have to start for the first time in the Europa League this season.
Marcos Rojo is another option to feature as a centre-back, but the Argentine should start as a left-back ahead of Brandon Williams. Lindelof should, thus, be Tuanzebe’s partner at the heart of the Manchester United defence.
The good bit of news is the return of Diogo Dalot. With Aaron Wan-Bissaka recovering from tonsillitis and Ashley Young rested, Dalot should slot in as the right-back. Up ahead in midfield, comes the gruesome news for Manchester United, with Paul Pogba sidelined once again.
Pogba is out with a recurrence of the ankle injury that has bothered him for over a month now. And, Solskjaer provided an update on the Frenchman in his pre-match presser.
“It’s after discussion with a specialist that we’ve planned that he needs further treatment and rest on his ankle. And I probably wouldn’t risk him on astroturf anyway, even if he was available for this game. But he needs a bit of rest now.”
In Pogba’s absence, Fred is expected to get a chance to impress, with Nemanja Matic also returning to the starting lineup, meaning Scott McTominay gets a rest. Meanwhile, Solskjaer also suggested that Juan Mata is likely to start in order to guide the youngsters in the final third.
When quizzed about Mata, the Manchester United boss said, “It’s an important game for us to get a result in. One or two of our youngsters will get another chance to impress. They all want to be part of a long future here and these games are a chance for that. We’ll have a mix of experience and youngsters.”
These aforementioned youngsters ought to be Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and Angel Gomes, back in the squad after shrugging off a knock. Greenwood will lead the line for Manchester United while Gomes will play off him, in the number 10 role, and James will make his European debut, starting on the left flank.
Predicted Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): Romero; Dalot, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Rojo; Matic, Fred; Mata, Gomes, James; Greenwood