With three players suspended and Marcus Rashford struggling for fitness, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be forced to make changes for the Red Devils’ clash with Granada at Old Trafford this evening.
United carry a 2-0 aggregate lead into the tie, but they cannot afford to underestimate their opponents, who have beaten the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla this season.
The question is how much of a risk is Solskjaer willing to take in his team selection, or rather, how much faith does he have in his squad players to finish the job?
He has already suggested that Victor Lindelof will not be rested, given that Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are unavailable, leaving the Swede and Axel Tuanzebe as the only two centre-backs at his disposal. Academy star Will Fish has been drafted into the squad to make up the numbers.
Alex Telles is a natural replacement for the suspended Luke Shaw, but will Aaron Wan-Bissaka be given a well-earned rest as well? Brandon Williams is an obvious replacement. Nemanja Matic is also an obvious replacement for the suspended Scott McTominay.
But it is in midfield and attack where Solskjaer has the really big calls to make. Rashford did not train yesterday so it seems highly unlikely that he will start the game. Edinson Cavani could struggle to play three games in eight days and Bruno Fernandes and Fred have both played a lot of football and could do with a rest. Paul Pogba, meanwhile, is carrying a yellow card into the game and another would see him miss the first leg of the semi-final, should United progress.
Those five players could be replaced by Donny van de Beek, Dan James, Amad, Juan Mata and Shola Shoretire, but how confident would the manager be with such an experimental side?
James will almost certainly come in, but surely now is the time to also give Amad his first start. Needing two goals, Granada will have to press, which should create the perfect conditions for the two pacy wingers to counter attack.
Van de Beek must surely also now be trusted with a start, whether it is in the number eight or number 10 role.
With the Europa League almost certainly being United’s last chance of silverware this season – unless Manchester City have a major collapse in the Premier League – and United having a comfortable nine-point cushion in the race for a top four finish, it would be foolish to take unnecessary risks at this stage. But it will be interesting to see what, and who, the manager considers to be a risk when he makes his team selection at 7pm this evening.