Manchester United is in Kazakhstan for Thursday’s fifth match day of the Europa League group stage.
Well, some of Manchester United is there.
The Red Devils only sent two players with more than 20 club appearances to the away match, as United has already qualified for the knockout stages.
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Those players are Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard, with most of the bunch being quite young, though 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant is going to get his first start for the club. He played 20 minutes in a League Cup match last season, but hasn’t started a senior match since his time at Stoke City ended in 2018.
“It’s a great chance for me to give Lee his first start for the club. It’s hard with young kids to give them enough games against men, professional games. We’ve got the EFL Trophy but, for me, this is a great chance to see them all together.”
Mostly, though, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is getting a look at his youngsters.
Many of the names will be alien to most fans, but Max Taylor may stand out from the pack. The 19-year-old is in the team just over a year removed from a diagnosis of testicular cancer and prescription of chemotherapy. From Manchester Evening News:
“He’s an inspiration for all the players. You can see when he’s out on the pitch there’s no fear anymore, he’s had fear in his life, when you’re on the football pitch you should enjoy yourself and I hope we can see him progress in his career. It’s a chance for us to give him extra motivation as well.”
Salient points, indeed.
United had to add spots in its team predictor app in order to accommodate Thursday’s crew, and a result on a frigid night in Kazakhstan would be remarkable.
Here are the numbers for 10 “new” players, via ManUtd.com: