Marcus Rashford has undergone a shoulder operation which will rule him out of the first few weeks of the season.
This means Manchester United will be unable to name a first choice XI for the opening game against Leeds.
There are other factors too affecting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection, with players at differing levels of fitness due to returning at various times for pre-season due to international engagements.
New signing Jadon Sancho is one of the players who’s availability to start the fixture will be questionable.
The MEN report he will join training for the first time on Friday. This means Sancho will have only around a week of training with United ahead of the game. While he could play a part from the bench, Leeds are a tough opponent to throw him in against.
So without Sancho and Rashford from the start, what do United’s wide options for the fixture look like?
Two from six
Amad can be discounted because he also will not be ready. He is travelling back from the Olympics in Tokyo and he won’t be considered as a starter.
That leaves five options, which could be reduced down to three by time the Leeds game comes around.
The dicey one is Facundo Pellistri. The Uruguayan is expected to go out on loan before the transfer window closes. However, he has impressed in pre-season with one goal and one assist, and until Sancho regains his fitness, United could delay Pellistri’s exit. He could end up as a surprise starter against Leeds if he is still around.
Probably more likely on the right is Mason Greenwood. While the teenager has started all three games up front, he has not seized his chance as a central striker yet and he will likely revert to playing on the wing if Sancho is not ready.
United hope to have either Anthony Martial or Edinson Cavani ready to start up front.
Speaking of Anthony Martial, the Frenchman could be considered as an option for the left wing in Rashford’s absence. He prefers to play centrally, but Solskjaer will be open-minded as he was last season, especially if he prefers Greenwood or Cavani centrally.
United do have three other options on the left, which may come as a relief to Martial.
One is impressive young talent Anthony Elanga, who has been one of the stars of pre-season, netting twice so far. Elanga is in the first team mix now and has had a full month of pre-season training behind him. This could count for a lot where Solskjaer is concerned for this fixture.
In the previous home game against Leeds, one of the stars of the show was surprise pick Dan James, who scored in the enthralling 6-2 victory for United.
James’ pace caused Leeds problems, and Solskjaer may see him as a safer option than going with the more inexperienced Elanga.
The final option which should not be discounted is the player who displaced Rashford from the left wing for stretches of last season, Paul Pogba.
United may have a preference for Pogba to play as part of a midfield three, but the vacancy created by Rashford’s injury may make it a case of ‘needs must’. Pogba’s own potential lack of match fitness may also make it less risky to play him out wide than in central midfield.
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