Manchester United taking on Neil Lennon’s Cypriot outfit seeking to build on their win at Sheriff Tiraspol in the most recent Europa League group stage clash
Manchester United will look to bounce back from their 6-3 Manchester derby drubbing when they take on Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League.
United boss Erik ten Hag has taken 22 players to Cyprus, including just five defenders, with injuries having ravaged his squad.
Ten Hag is expected to rotate his squad for a game that should not pose too many problems, with players like Cristiano Ronaldo – left on the bench for the derby – starting.
Yet Ten Hag insisted he will pick his strongest side, given United need to win after picking up three points from their opening two group games.
Ten Hag said: “I don’t make a difference between Europa League and Premier League – we have to win all games and cups. So we will play our best team.
“We have to construct a team, because we also want a competitive culture in our team and this club.”
Here, Mirror Football looks at the selection options facing Ten Hag ahead of Thursday’s 5.45pm kick-off in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.
With Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all injured, Ten Hag has few options at his disposal in defence.
Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez will play in central defence, with Luke Shaw – who needs game-time – likely to come in at left-back. That leaves the right-back slot between Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia.
The latter switched from left-back to right-back midway through United’s win over Sheriff Tiraspol, so Ten Hag may choose him to play there over Dalot, for whom it is his natural position. Dalot is likely to get the nod there, though, given his familiarity with the position.
The midfield is an intriguing area for Ten Hag to address.
Casemrio needs minutes, as does Fred, while Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen could both do with a rest ahead of United’s trip to Everton on Sunday evening.
Ten Hag could therefore go with a midfield duo of Casemiro and Fred, but playing two defensively-minded players, against a side United should overcome with relative ease, could be considered too negative from Ten Hag, so Eriksen may keep his place, alongside Casemiro, with Fred introduced later on, to build-up his fitness and get some vital minutes under his belt.
Ronaldo was left on the bench for the defeat at Manchester City
Like in midfield, there are forward players who need game-time, who are simply not going to get it in the Premier League, like Ronaldo, Anthony Elanga and Anthony Martial.
The latter came on in the 6-3 derby defeat at Manchester City, plundering two goals, and seems certain to start as he needs to build up his match-fitness after an injury lay-off. Ronaldo, too, needs minutes, having been left on the bench against City, while Antony’s arrival has seen Elanga forced out of the picture.
There is a case for starting Elanga, Bruno Fernandes and Martial as an attacking three, with Ronaldo leading the line, but Antony may be included from the start, as Ten Hag seeks to further integrate his new signing into the team and playing style.
Man Utd probable team (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Elanga, Fernandes, Martial; Ronaldo