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Stoke City vs Manchester United: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United can send an emphatic message to the rest of the Premier League by winning at the Bet365 Stadium for the first time since 2013 on Saturday.

The often crushing post-Fergie era has been reflected most vividly through trips to Stoke, where David Moyes lost, Louis van Gaal drew one and lost one, and where Mourinho saw Wayne Rooney save his side from defeat with a late equaliser back in January.

A convincing win over Mark Hughes’s men would serve as real evidence of this Man United side moving inexorably in the right direction under the Portuguese.

Here are three players who simply must start against Stoke on Saturday afternoon.

Marcus Rashford

The youngster stole the show against Leicester City and, somewhat unsurprisingly, did the exact same for England when handed a place in the starting XI, claiming a goal and an assist in the win over Slovakia.

He was a bubbling, devastating presence, creating openings and lifting bums off seats throughout. This is somebody who, aged 19, decides games, and Mourinho will want him at the forefront of United’s attacking onslaught.

Romelu Lukaku

There is only one way for a player like Lukaku to recover from a poor day at the office in front of goal: score goals.

And he has done exactly that for Belgium over the international break, netting a hat-trick against Gibraltar and claiming the goal that guaranteed his country a place at next year’s World Cup against Greece. He now has eight goals for club and country since joining United and Mourinho, in turn, should have a simple message to his players: feed the beast as much as possible.

Phil Jones

For somebody so often sidelined through injury, momentum is key. And with Jones set to miss the clash against Basel next Tuesday Mourinho will want to see the Englishman continue his superb form for club and counrty against Stoke.

Alongside Eric Bailly, also suspended for Basel, he has been simply indomitable and smart on the ball so far this season, and supporters will be desperate to see more of the same on Saturday.

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