It was not a surprise to see Axel Tuanzebe start for Manchester United against Istanbul Basaksehir.
The young defender has needed some action after stepping in against PSG and so an appearance in Turkey was easy to see coming.
However after a poor opening 45 minutes in which he also picked up a yellow card, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a change at half-time.
What was surprising was that Victor Lindelof did not replace him. Nemanja Matic moved to centre-back, with substitute Scott McTominay replacing Tuanzebe.
Solskjaer explained after the match that Lindelof is dealing with an injury.
Solskjaer told the club website: “
Victor has got a bad back so he couldn’t play and Axel stepped in.“
Battling to face Everton
The good news is that Lindelof was deemed fit to travel, and to feature on the bench.
United chose not to use him, likely with a view on preserving his fitness for the Everton fixture.
With Tuanzebe’s performance level taking a step back from the PSG game, United need Lindelof healthy for the Everton game.
There is a short turnaround after this midweek match, with United kicking off at Goodison Park at 12.30pm on Saturday.
The club website says there will be an update on Lindelof’s fitness at Solskjaer’s Friday press conference.
Unless Lindelof’s condition worsened upon arrival in Turkey, it is fair to ask why he was asked to travel, if United had no intention of selecting him.
United need all hands on deck against Everton, a tough game against a side who have started the season well. They themselves are looking to reverse their own mini-slump in form, while still sitting in fourth place.
It is important United have Lindelof available. He has picked up form lately, with United not conceding a goal from open play in any of the last three games he and Harry Maguire have started together.
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