With qualification into the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League already being done, Manchester United are taking things easy heading into the game against FC Astana.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has travelled with a very young squad, with only Jesse Lingard, Axel Tuanzebe, Lee Grant and Luke Shaw being among the first-teamers included in the squad.
As conditions at Kazakhstan have fallen to as low as -20 degrees Celsius, with United stars warned to stay indoors to beat the cold, the Norwegian is taking no risks in further inflicting damage on his already injury-hit squad.
Fourteen of the travelling players are under the age of 20, which means the Red Devils will play under the closed-roof of the Astana Arena with a very young and inexperienced side.
Man Utd fans are used to putting money on Champions League offers at this stage of the season to predict how far United fill go in the competition, but this year it’s all about the Europa League, and United, despite their problems, are still one of the betting favourites for this tournament.
The hosts might’ve already been knocked out of the competition, but they’ll look to gain some fame at the expense of the young Red Devils.
They’ve been unable to win a single point and only scored once in four games, but against a side predominantly consisting of youngsters, the Kazakhstan giants will take their chances.
United will try to protect their players, but their blooming youngsters should take this opportunity to prove themselves to the manager.
With Solskjaer showing interesting in promoting youth, the ones who make the biggest impact in these tough conditions could make more appearances ahead.
Manchester United Predicted XI
Grant, Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Levitt, Garner, Galbraith, Lingard, Gomes, Chong, Greenwood
FC Astana Predicted XI
Eric, Rukavina, Postnikov, Logvinenko, Shomko, Muzhikov, Pertsukh, Mayewski, Rotarui, Tomasov, Khizhnichenko
Tahith Chong vs Antonio Rukavina
Tahith Chong will get another chance to impress in Europe as he’s one of the more experienced youngsters chosen to feature.
The Dutch youngster is packed with pace and trickery to glide past defenders at will, but his final delivery has to improve. However, Chong won’t have the easiest time dealing with the experienced Antonio Rukavina.
The Serbian is a compact, hard-tackling customer who knows how to nullify electric wingers. Chong will need to fight against the conditions as well as the strong defenders to deliver something special and impress his coach.
Dorin Rotariu vs Ethan Laird
While Astana have lacked any inspiration in attack during their Europa League games, but Dorin Rotariu’s been a breath of fresh air. The Romanian has inspired life in their attack with his pacy and exciting work on the ball.
Rotariu will be itching to get a goal in the Europa League and make for a sorrow time for young Ethan Laird. The 18-year-old right-back is in line to make his United debut, after impressing in youth level.
Laird’s a diligent figure going forward with plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but is strong and confident defensively as well. He’ll be desperate to put in an industrious shift and prove to Solskjaer why he deserves to compete for the right-back spot.