Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to recall the fit-again Nemanja Matic to the starting XI when his team face AZ Alkmaar on Thursday.
Manchester United will be looking to clinch top spot in Group L of the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League when they take on Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford on Thursday night. And the Red Devils have been greeted with some positive news on the injury front ahead of the game.
Nemanja Matic is back to full fitness and is set to be involved against AZ, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed on the eve of the game. Manchester United have also been boosted by the return of Diogo Dalot, but the Thursday clash comes too soon for the Portuguese.
There was more positive news as Marcos Rojo is also set to return to action next week, while long-term absentees Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are also close to rejoining first-team training. However, French superstar Paul Pogba remains sidelined.
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Ahead of the game, Solskjaer told MUTV, “Diogo [Dalot] is back training fully. Nemanja [Matic] is back. [Marcos] Rojo is hopefully back next week. Eric [Bailly] and Timothy [Fosu-Mensah] are training with the team from next week onwards. In January, I reckon we will have many of them match fit. Paul is not ready to play but won’t be far away.”
Solskjaer fielded a very young and inexperienced side in Manchester United’s last Europa League clash against Astana and while he is expected to make a host of changes on Thursday, he is likely to go with a slightly more experienced unit against AZ.
Sergio Romero ought to return in goal against his former club, as has been the norm for the Europa League games. There will be a complete revamp in defence as Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are likely to partner up at the centre, flanked by Brandon Williams and Ethan Laird, who impressed on his debut against Astana last time out.
Now that Matic is fit again, he is in line to make his first appearance for Manchester United since their last meeting with AZ back in October. The Serbian international is likely to pair up with academy product James Garner in the middle of the park, with Solskjaer likely to rest Scott McTominay and Fred.
Jesse Lingard is unlikely to be involved for Manchester United after missing training on Wednesday due to a knock he picked up against Manchester City at the weekend. In his stead, Juan Mata should get the nod in the No. 10 role against AZ Alkmaar ahead of Andreas Pereira, who has flattered to deceive this season.
The rest of the attacking unit will also be in for a tweak as youth stars Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes are likely to get the nod on the flanks, much like the game against Astana. Mason Greenwood, who has been directly involved in three of Manchester United’s four goals at home in the Europa League, should start as the centre-forward.
Manchester United Predicted XI: Romero; Laird, Tuanzebe, Jones, Williams; Garner, Matic; Chong, Mata, Gomes; Greenwood