Part of Manchester United’s pre-match preparations for some time has involved meeting at the Lowry Hotel in Salford Quays, a stone’s throw away from Old Trafford. Ahead of Thursday night’s meeting with Fenerbahce in Group A of the Europa League, the squad has arrived at the Lowry before heading to the ground for this evening’s kick-off at 20:05 GMT.
The Manchester Evening News, who were stationed outside the hotel as always, have confirmed which players arrived, along with Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who both currently reside at the hotel having not yet moved into permanent accommodation after their respective moves to the club this summer. The squad presumably includes both men, and looks something like this:
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Fosu-Mensah, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw
Midfielders: Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata
Attackers: Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial
There are several noticeable absentees from this squad. For a start, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, who weren’t expected to start the game this evening regardless, won’t be featuring at all, and are presumably being rested with their involvement in Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge in mind. Morgan Schneiderlin is also conspicuous in his absence, which could either be due to exclusion from the match day squad, or the fact that he has yet to recover from the injury he sustained during training last weekend that kept him out of Monday’s squad to face Liverpool.
With that in mind, here’s an amended starting XI for this evening:
The changes from our last suggested XI aren’t huge; Herrera comes out immediately, and is replaced by Marouane Fellaini. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is also sure to start after signing a new contract with the club just yesterday, and it feels more likely that Wayne Rooney will start a game for the club for the first time in five matches ahead of Marcus Rashford, who will likely be saved for Sunday’s game.
As such, this team is filled with players who either weren’t involved or came on late in Monday’s game at Anfield, and there are eight changes in all to cope with what Jose Mourinho has described as a ‘difficult week’. Sunday’s game at Chelsea is followed closely by the visit of Manchester City to Old Trafford in the 4th round of the EFL Cup, and Mourinho will need to utilise his squad to give United the best chance of coming out of this busy period with positive results.