Erik ten Hag is expected to name a strong line-up as Man Utd aim to end a long wait for a trophy…
Manchester United are three games away from their first trophy in nearly six years and Erik ten Hag understands the gravitas.
Speaking in Tuesday’s press conference ahead of the first leg of the club’s League Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest, the Reds boss said: “I think the fans here have some experience, especially the older ones, but in this period, Manchester United didn’t win trophies and it’s too long ago. We are aware of that fact and we have to do it again.”
With this in mind, and given United host Championship Reading in the FA Cup three days later, Ten Hag is expected to name a strong side. United’s last visit to the City Ground in February 1999 saw them dismantle Forest 8-1.
While it is not anticipated that the Reds will fire home as many goals, they are the strong favourites. And after Sunday’s narrow loss to league leaders Arsenal, Ten Hag will want to make a point.
None of the players who missed the trip to London will feature against Forest – who are without United loanee Dean Henderson. Antony Martial, Diogo Dalot and Jadon Sancho are all not yet ready for a return to action.
So Ten Hag could name an unchanged backline with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw guarding David de Gea. Casemiro sat out the defeat to Arsenal due to suspension and his absence was felt.
He will likely come back in to reprise his pivot duties and allow Christian Eriksen to be more expressive than he was at the Emirates. Bruno Fernandes is set to don the armband and lead the side again.
Top scorer Marcus Rashford is, alongside Casemiro, one of United’s undroppables this season and he will look to add to the 17 goals he’s tallied so far after scoring twice against Charlton in the previous round.
Martial’s latest injury troubles means Wout Weghorst will start his third game in 12 days since first arriving at United. He’ll be looking to open his account for his new club in the next two fixtures.
Meanwhile, Ten Hag may stick with Antony amid his rough patch. The Brazilian has scored twice since the turn of the year but has not converted in the league since October. Some fans believe his recent performances have been abject, But his manager, whom he played under at Ajax, will want to show faith that his £85m deadline day signing can turn it around and Forest presents a good opportunity for a confidence boost.