The rearranged date of Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool coupled with Daniel James’ absence from the squad could mean Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to rethink his line-up for tonight’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma.
Yesterday The Peoples Person published a predicted XI which included James. But later in the day, Solskjaer revealed to ManUtd.com that the Welsh winger had picked up an injury.
‘We didn’t get any injuries at the weekend, we trained well after that,’ he said.
‘But Dan James is not available. He’s still out for a little while.’
With a ridiculous three Premier League days in five days ahead – and not easy ones either, with Aston Villa away on Sunday followed by Leicester and Liverpool at home on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively – the boss is facing a real dilemma.
There are too many players in his squad that are lacking match fitness but who will surely be needed over the course of next week.
With a 4-goal buffer, tonight’s match would seem a perfect opportunity to give those players minutes, but United have to also be careful and not underestimate Roma. Four goal advantages have been overturned in Europe before and this cannot be approached like a pre-season warm-up.
Surely, now, the likes of Brandon Williams, Alex Telles, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata must be started in order to be brought to match fitness. Arguably, Axel Tuanzebe, Amad and Anthony Elanga must also be given minutes as well – the latter never having played for the senior side before.
It will be a difficult balancing act for Solskjaer and one he must get right in order to progress safely to the Europa League final and yet to also ensure that a top four finish is still achieved in the Premier League.