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Sunderland vs Manchester United – The starting XI

by Tom Newbold

It might have been a long fortnight but Manchester Untied are finally back in action in what is going to be a busy Easter weekend. They face Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime just two days before an FA Cup replay away at Chelsea. The close proximity of these fixtures, and the fact many United players have been away on international duty, will both be prominent factors in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selections.

Team

David de Gea: The young Spaniard is unlikely to need resting after not making the squad for Spain on his first international call-up and will probably feature against both Sunderland and Chelsea.

Rafael: No international call up for Rafael suggests United’s first choice right-back will get a start against Sunderland.

Jonny Evans: As one of United’s younger centre-backs who can recover quicker from games, Evans may well be selected against Sunderland despite recent international duty.

Nemanja Vidic: United’s captain didn’t feature in the international break and is therefore likely to be called upon to lead the team on Saturday.

Alexander Buttner: Patrice Evra featured in France’s defeat to Spain last week and therefore may be rested ahead of the Chelsea tie. United’s left-footed Dutchman will be ready to step in.

Ashley Young: Young is slowly but surely making a return to full fitness and form after injury and a start against Sunderland would be another step along that path.

Anderson: It would make sense that Anderson features in one of United’s two upcoming fixtures with the arguably less taxing game against Sunderland a more likely choice.

Ryan Giggs: Giggs, like Anderson, didn’t feature in the international break meaning he is a likely candidate to be selected for his freshness and experience on Saturday.

Danny Welbeck: Welbeck was bright for England the other night in a left-sided position and long recent travels for Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia mean the young Englishman might get selected out wide.

Wayne Rooney: Rooney was outstanding for England last week,and will be looking to continue that form in the next games.

Robin van Persie: Ferguson may select van Persie because of the Dutchman’s recent resurgent goal-scoring form whilst on duty with the Netherlands.

United vs SunderlandFormation

A typical 4-4-1-1 system is likely to be employed against Sunderland. Giggs and Anderson will need to work hard but be intelligent in their use of the ball. This selection would be similar to that in United’s last game against Reading, with exactly the same front six.

The notable absentees from that line-up are Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez.

Carrick and Cleverley are likely to be saved for the Chelsea game as United’s first-choice midfield pairing who have both been exerting themselves on international duty.

Kagawa, Valencia and Hernandez are also likely to be saved. These three players had productive international breaks but their long return journeys from outside Europe means Ferguson is likely to want to keep them fresh until Monday. The return to training of Nani, Paul Scholes and Phil Jones are boosts for the squad and any of the three may feature at some point over the next two games.

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