Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard are set to return while three players are in line to make their debuts when Manchester United take on Astana on Thursday.
Manchester United will be hoping to clinch top spot in Group L of the UEFA Europa League when they travel to Nur-Sultan to lock horns with Astana on Thursday. With qualification to the Round of 32 secured, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken the opportunity to blood youngsters in.
Four of the starters, including three debutants, against Astana were confirmed by the Manchester United manager during his pre-match press conference. One of these players is Lee Grant, with David de Gea and Sergio Romero both being left back in Manchester for the trip to Nur-Sultan. Grant will make his first start for Manchester United at Astana.
Speaking on Grant, Solskjaer said, “It’s a great chance for me to give Lee his first start for the club. It’s hard with young kids to give them enough games against men, professional games. We’ve got the EFL Trophy but, for me, this is a great chance to see them all together.”
The other confirmed starters are Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt, each of whom will be turning out for the Manchester United senior team for the first time. Laird will take his place as the visitors’ right-back, while Bernard will line up at the heart of the defence.
Bernard’s central defensive partner ought to be Axel Tuanzebe, who, along with Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard will be the “senior figures” in the lineup, as suggested by Solskjaer during his presser. Tuanzebe should, in fact, even don the armband for Manchester United against Astana.
“It’s common sense. We’ve done great to qualify after four games and it gives us an opportunity to give game time to experienced lads who need it. Axel [Tuanzebe], Luke [Shaw] and Jesse [Lingard] have not really had too many games and are coming back from injuries.”
Shaw will complete the backline, returning to the starting lineup for the first time since August. Levitt will be deployed in the midfield double pivot, where he ought to have James Garner giving him company.
Lingard will look to guide the youngsters around him in midfield and attack, with the Englishman reprising the no. 10 role. Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood, who have all already featured in the Europa League this season, will be the three attackers surrounding Lingard, with Greenwood leading the line for Manchester United against Astana.
Predicted Manchester United XI: Grant; Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Shaw; Garner, Levitt; Gomes, Lingard, Chong; Greenwood