Members of Manchester United’s squad who have not competed at the World Cup will get the chance to store some minutes under their belts when the Reds face Spanish outfit Cadiz CF in a friendly at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Wednesday night.
The Reds, who visited Spain as recently as last month for their concluding Europa League group stage fixture against Real Sociedad, flew out to the country on Saturday to begin a warm-weather training camp. United will play two friendlies during their time in Spain, facing both Cadiz and Real Betis.
Manager Erik ten Hag has taken a squad with him that features a blend of both youth and experience, meaning the upcoming fixtures will give him the chance to experiment and tinker, as well as allowing as many members of his squad as possible to get some minutes in the tank. United are scheduled to resume their campaign on December 21, facing Burnley at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Although Ten Hag has selected a 29-man squad for the trip to Spain, it is possible that we could see a more familiar-looking line-up from the start against Cadiz. David de Gea, who has started all but one game for the Reds so far this season, is likely to get the nod between the sticks, although fellow shot-stoppers Martin Dubravka, Nathan Bishop and Tom Heaton will all be chomping at the bit for minutes in these two upcoming fixtures.
With Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw all still away on World Cup duty, United’s defensive line will have a very unfamiliar look to it against Cadiz. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has got just four minutes worth of football under his belt so far this term, could be in line to earn a rare start at right-back, with Marc Jurado also in contention.
Victor Lindelof and Teden Mengi could start alongside each other in central-defence, offering United a blend of experience and youth. Brandon Williams, despite being sidelined through injury for several months, could find himself in a strong enough position to start at left-back.
Ten Hag’s travelling party is awash with central-midfielders, meaning the Dutchman should not find it difficult to name a midfield trio. Senior duo Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek could be in line to start in the engine room, with the latter playing in a more advanced role, meaning Zidane Iqbal could slot into a deeper role alongside McTominay.
Iqbal, who could be sent out on loan by United in January, was the breakout star of the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia and will be looking to make the most of a potential opportunity to impress Ten Hag. He has not made a competitive appearance at first-team level this term.
In attack, Ten Hag, once again, is not light on options, despite being without the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, who is continuing to work on an individual training programme, and Antony. If he chooses to go with his strongest available front-three, the Dutchman, from right to left, could deploy Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho.
Young strikers Charlie McNeill and Joe Hugill have also been included in the squad that has travelled to Spain, as has versatile attacker Shola Shoretire.