Manchester United are preparing for the club’s first pre-season fixture later this week against old rivals Leeds United.

It is only a week since players returned to Carrington for pre-season and preparations are already underway ahead of the first match of the summer.

Manchester United face Leeds in Norwegian capital Oslo on Wednesday in a game which kicks off at 4pm UK time.

This is the first of eight matches Manchester United will face in pre-season, with under-21 players expected to be mixed in

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Manchester United Pre-Season Training Session
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Half the squad are available

Manchester United are missing almost half the first team squad, with all the players who played in the June international friendlies still absent, due to extended holidays.

While they will begin filtering back later this week, it’s unclear if any will return in time to feature in Oslo, without any time on the training pitch at Carrington.

Erik ten Hag still has a strong group of players he can select from. He is likely to select a strong starting XI and then turn to younger players in the second half, like he did in winter friendly matches against Cadiz and Real Betis.

There are still several big names Ten Hag can call on as part of the group, with some high profile players missing international games in June due to injury or national team retirement.

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Possible strongest XI

The issue of goalkeeper at Manchester United needs resolving, with the club without a number one after David de Geas exit.

Dean Henderson is technically the best goalkeeper on United’s books, however, it would be a surprise if he played in this game, with a move to Nottingham Forest in the pipeline.

We anticipate Tom Heaton starting this game, and he will be pleased he has a pair of World Cup winners in front of him.

A fit again Lisandro Martinez is available, along with Raphael Varane. It will be a major boost for Erik ten Hag to have his first choice defensive partnership ready from day one.

Another cornerstone of his defence is Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who will slot in at right-back.

The left-back position is up for grabs against Leeds. Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia is still away, along with Diogo Dalot.

Brandon Williams is likely to start as he looks to relaunch his career. Many fans would be more excited to see Alvaro Fernandez, who should see action in the second half.

Manchester United’s midfield will also have a very makeshift approach, with so many regulars away.

Fred and Donny van de Beek could start this friendly despite both being linked with departures from Old Trafford. This is a chance for them to get into the shop window, before Ten Hag gives minutes to some young players in the second half.

The star attraction will be new signing Mason Mount, with United’s new number seven adding some excitement to the midfield.

We could see Amad in the second half along with Kobbie Mainoo. Isak Hansen-Aaroen, Shola Shoretire, Hannibal and Charlie Savage will also look to get minutes, while Marc Jurado and Rhs Bennett could get game time in defence.

In attack, Erik ten Hag has three senior players to call on, all who have big points to prove.

Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Antony are expected to lead the line in Norway and try and get their seasons off to positive starts.

Manchester United strongest pre-season XI July 10
Manchester United strongest pre-season XI July 10 – GRV Media

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