Manchester United will want to hit the ground running in their 2019/20 Europa League campaign when they host Kazakh side Astana on Thursday night.
The Red Devils are back in Europe’s secondary club competition after failing to finish in the top four of the Premier League last season.
They were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona at the quarter-final stage last term but still had a memorable night earlier in the competition when they beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16.
With United’s target of finishing in the top four of the English top flight by no means guaranteed, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could look to this season’s Europa League as another route into next season’s Champions League.
United begin against an Astana side, who edged past BATE Borisov to book their place in the groups, so shouldn’t pose too much of a threat.
And with the match being played at Old Trafford, this could spell the opportunity for Solskjaer to field some of his less experienced players.
Daniel James will miss the Europa League opener along with Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial.
The in-form winger picked up a knock in Saturday’s win against Leicester and was absent from United’s session on Wednesday, when Pogba (ankle) and Shaw (hamstring) did individual work.
Anthony Martial (thigh) and Eric Bailly (knee) are also out through injury, but Jesse Lingard (illness) and Diogo Dalot (hip) trained with the rest of the squad on the eve of the match.
One youngster who will get his chance is forward Mason Greenwood after Solskjaer confirmed the 17-year-old as well as Fred, Axel Tuanzebe and back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero will start the game.
Changes should be in order for Solskjaer which includes Romero and Tuanzebe.
Phil Jones should get a rare opportunity to impress for the first-team too.
The onus is on United to win and win well so we’ve gone for a 4-3-3 formation which could also see Lingard make his return while Andreas Pereira, who is something of a peripheral player will want to impress.
Up top there could be two exciting players in Greenwood, 17, and Tahith Chong, 19, while Juan Mata could feature to offer them any guidance they may need during the match.
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