Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay are doubts while Juan Mata is in line to start when Manchester United take on Real Sociedad in the UEFA Europa League.
Manchester United will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways and take a step closer towards the next round of the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League when they lock horns with Real Sociedad in the first leg of their Round of 32 contest on Thursday.
Leading up to the match, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been handed several major injury blows as Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek have been ruled out due to fitness issues. The duo joins key man Paul Pogba out on the sidelines. In addition, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial are also doubts for the game.
“Paul is recovering well. Apart from that, we have a couple of doubtful ones, if they’ll be fit enough – Anthony and Scott. Donny and Edinson are injured unfortunately, muscle injuries, so they won’t travel,” Solskjaer confirmed in his pre-match press conference.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 17, 2021
There are likely to be quite a few changes made to the side that featured in the 1-1 draw against West Brom last weekend. Dean Henderson, who has been biding his time for a run of games, should get an opportunity in the Europa League ahead of first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea.
No changes are expected in the full-back slots though with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw being in impressive form of late, meaning Brandon Williams and Alex Telles will have to satisfy with places on the bench. Club captain Harry Maguire is a certain starter at the heart of the Manchester United defence.
However, he could be in for a change of partners on Thursday against Sociedad, with Eric Bailly likely to step into the side in place of Victor Lindelof, who endured a forgettable outing against West Brom.
With no Pogba, van de Beek and McTominay a doubt, Solskjaer will have to start with Fred and Nemanja Matic in United’s midfield double pivot against the La Liga high-fliers. Manchester United’s talisman, Bruno Fernandes, is an undisputed starter in the No. 10 role.
Cavani’s unavailability and the uncertainty surrounding Martial’s condition opens up a spot in the attacking unit. While Marcus Rashford is a certain starter out on the left-wing, Mason Greenwood could be moved to the centre-forward slot against Sociedad.
This would leave Juan Mata and Daniel James vying for the right-wing berth, along with new signing Amad Diallo, who has travelled with the team. The veteran Spanish playmaker could get the nod, however, after having not featured in over a month.
Speaking of Mata in his presser, Solskjaer said: “He’s been away for a little while. Now he’s back, he’s travelling with us. He’s been bright in training, so if we see Juan on the pitch, he’ll want to prove to his Spanish fans as well what a quality player he is.”
There could be first-team debuts in the latter stages of the game for Diallo, as well as teenage sensation Shola Shoretire, who has also made the trip to Turin.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood.