Man Utd face League One Rochdale in the Carabao Cup, a local derby-of-sorts at Old Trafford on Wednesday. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces a strikerless conundrum with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford ruled out and Mason Greenwood doubtful. Luke Shaw also misses the fourth round clash, but injuries aside there can simply be no excuse against Brian Barry – Murphy’s Dale.
Here is how we think United will line up at Old Trafford:
GK – Sergio Romero
Romero is United’s cup keeper and there is an argument that he should be considered for the league given David de Gea’s form. He started all of our Carabao and FA Cup ties last season and played against Astana last time out. He will continue between the sticks in this one
RB – Ashley Young
This is where it gets tricky. Diogo Dalot played at right-back against Astana but was omitted against West Ham. It remains unclear whether the Portuguese is still absent. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be rested so Young gets the nod and will captain the side.
CB – Phil Jones & Axel Tuanzebe
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are by far and away our best and most reliable centre-backs and neither need to play in this one. That leaves Solskjaer little option but to go with the duo that came in against Astana in Europe. Jones to his credit did little wrong in that game and will get another chance as Ole rotates. I expect to see young Tuanzebe – who I’m a big fan of – alongside him.
LB – Marcos Rojo
Rojo plays simply because there’s no one else! Dalot and Luke Shaw are both injured so it must be Rojo. That is all.
CM – James Garner
Garner has not featured for the senior side yet this term following last season’s breakthrough. But he was not with the Reserve team on Monday night hinting at potential involvement in this one. Again, Solskjaer’s options look limited but Garner adds something different and should get another opportunity.
CM – Fred
Fred – Manchester United’s latest Brazilian enigma. From a personal point of view, he doesn’t look up to much but there’s an argument that he needs a run of games consistently before you can judge. Scott McTominay has started in every Premier League game and could do with a breather. This match provides the ideal chance for Ole to give a run out to several fringe players.
CM – Paul Pogba
As per Sky Sports, Pogba is fit again and will return to action in midfield against the League One side. Pogba has missed the last three games and manager Solskjaer confirmed that the World Cup winner will play a part in the tie – a significant boost for United.
RW – Angel Gomes
Another player who did not play for the Reserves on Monday and another youngster who looks set to feature against Dale in a youthful front three. Gomes made a fleeting appearance against West Ham and is being drip fed into the first team by Solskjaer. Games such as this one should be for players like him, as there is no benefit to playing the likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
CF – Mason Greenwood
Greenwood missed the defeat at West Ham through tonsilitis but, fresh from his match winning strike against Astana, is set to return here. After Marcus Rashford limped off at the London Stadium and with Anthony Martial still out, the 17-year-old will be the only recognised striker in the United squad. I can’t deal with the sight of Lingard up front again so Greenwood is in.
LW – Tahith Chong
Completing the homegrown front three is Chong, who also sat out the Under 23s heavy defeat at Villa presumably in readiness to feature here. Dan James is likely to be rested, probably on the bench as one of the senior players in the match squad at only 21. He is the only real competition for the left-wing berth, but I’d expect to see Chong come in for his first United start.
This is what we think the manager will go with – but will he agree?
The Carabao Cup should not be high on the list of Solskjaer’s priorities but even the mere thought of defeat against these opponents is unfathomable.
United should be winning with a bit to spare.
Prediction – Manchester United 3-0 Rochdale.