Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has several big decisions to make ahead of Manchester United’s FA Cup tie at the weekend.
United are away at struggling Norwich City on Saturday night, but nothing should be taken for granted.
This is a one-off game under the night lights, where anything can happen. Especially if Solskjaer makes the mistake of underestimating the Canaries, despite 3-1 and 4-0 wins over them this season.
That is the problem. United’s key players may need a rest, especially with an away trip to Brighton up next, where United have lost two in a row, admittedly none under Solskjaer.
Brighton have the weekend off, and will have a seven day rest between games. United will just have two full days between Saturday’s cup tie and Tuesday’s Premier League match.
Rotation is important… but how much?
Nemanja Matic is one player who is likely to be rested, as United look to ensure he starts just once a week to stay in peak condition.
Paul Pogba is also a player who will probably sit out, with both likely to be saved for the Brighton game.
So it will be Fred and Scott McTominay to start here, a pretty impressive pair of back-ups, who both started against Spurs.
The question is whether Fernandes gets rested too. United don’t really have an obvious and able deputy.
Jesse Lingard missed training ahead of the Sheffield United game and so Andreas Pereira took his place on the bench. He may get the start.
All over the pitch you have players who could be rested. For instance United could easily line up with Odion Ighalo up front, Dan James on the left, and Juan Mata on the right.
But is a front four of Pereira, James, Mata and Ighalo good enough to win a FA Cup quarter-final? United may take the gamble that it will be.
Defensive changes too
In goal United will likely give ‘cup goalkeeper’ Sergio Romero a run out in place of David de Gea.
Eric Bailly is due a start in central defence, but Axel Tuanzebe’s injury means one of Lindelof and Maguire will have to start too.
At full-back United have the option of starting Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams.
Williams is a near certain starter here. Dalot’s selection depends on Wan-Bissaka’s fitness levels.
So United could end up making as many as 10 changes to the starting line-up which played against Sheffield United.
This would not be to deliberately underestimate Norwich, it is more a case of using our squad effectively, with an eye on next week’s Premier League game, where we are already at a disadvantage.
10 changes is a lot. Possibly too much. But this is an option available to Solskjaer, especially when players like Marcus Rashford are still feeling their way back from injury.
The United boss certainly has a tough call, and it is good to have these selection problems. He just has to choose wisely, and hope that any big gamble pays off.
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