Man Utd team news: Expected XI vs Real Sociedad with six changes and two debuts possible
Real Sociedad v Man Utd: Solskjaer previews tie
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Manchester United return to European action against Real Sociedad in Turin tonight (5.55pm kick-off) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likely to take the opportunity to make some changes to his starting eleven in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 clash. The United boss could even give debuts to two up-and-coming under-23s talents off of the bench, with the Red Devils able to name a 12-man bench and use five substitutions at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium. Express Sport looks at the United XI Solskjaer could name.
Academy graduate Dean Henderson has only made four appearances in 2021 with all of them coming in cup competitions.
Given David de Gea has not been dropped in the Premier League since December 17, Henderson should return to the team here.
Solskjaer said of Henderson last week: “‘I am a first choice’ and the keeper position is no different to the right-back, left-back or centre-forward position. It’s about your performances and what you give to the team.
“So I am in a very fortunate position to have the goalkeeper department that I do have and it was a conscious decision obviously to bring Dean back to have real competition in that position as well.
“And Dean has made it harder and harder for me, of course, to leave him out because whenever he plays he does really well.”
Defence: Telles, Maguire, Bailly, Williams
Solskjaer could make numerous changes to his defence with first-choice full-backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka perhaps dropping to the bench in Turin.
Brandon Williams started at right-back in the FA Cup against Watford and came on off the bench to play in the same position against West Ham.
He could offer Wan-Bissaka a rest with summer signing Alex Telles displacing the in-form Shaw with the Portuguese having not played in any of United’s last four league games.
Captain Harry Maguire should continue at centre-back but Victor Lindelof could be replaced by Eric Bailly.
The Ivorian was an unused substitute against West Brom at the weekend where Lindelof was well beaten in the air by Mbaye Diagne for the Baggies’ goal.
Man Utd: Team train ahead of Real Sociedad tie
Midfield: Fred, Matic
Another change could come in midfield with Scott McTominay’s involvement subject to a late fitness test.
The Scot has travelled to Italy but Solskjaer may not risk him given Nemanja Matic is available to come in for him.
With Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba absent due to injury, the tireless Fred should partner Serbian veteran Matic in the middle.
Attack: Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial
With United looking to take a first-leg advantage back to Old Trafford, Bruno Fernandes should start in the No 10 role.
The Portuguese playmaker is United’s attacking talisman and Van de Beek’s absence means Juan Mata is the only real alternative.
The Spaniard, however, has only played once across all competitions since December 17.
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Fresh from signing a new contract, Mason Greenwood should start out on the right after Marcus Rashford lined up there at West Brom.
Rashford should return to the left with Anthony Martial leading the line provided he passes a fitness test.
Edinson Cavani has not travelled due to injury meaning Rashford or Greenwood could start up top if Martial is not fit enough to start.
Solskjaer has meanwhile taken teenage talents Amad and Shola Shoretire to Turin and has hinted the pair could get game time off the bench.
“Yeah they’re in the travelling squad,” he said. Not just for experience, they’re there to make an impact if they have to.
“The two boys have done well in training and they are talents that we want to give experience to. First of all they’re travelling and then let’s see if they come on the pitch.”
Given the clamour for January new boy Amad to get minutes, Solskjaer should make use of his five substitutions and bring the Ivorian off the bench for his first appearance for the club.
Man Utd predicted XI: Henderson, Telles, Maguire, Bailly, Williams, Fred, Matic, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial
Full Man Utd travelling squad for Real Sociedad tie
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Henderson, Grant
Defenders: Bailly, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Telles, Tuanzebe, Wan-Bissaka, Williams
Midfielders: Fernandes, Fred, Mata, Matic, McTominay
Forwards: Amad, Shoretire, Greenwood, Martial, James, Rashford
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