Academy graduates Zidane Iqbal and Alejandro Garnacho could feature for Manchester United against Real Sociedad on Thursday.
The MEN have reported that the pair have been featuring heavily in first team training this week ahead of the Europa League tie, which could be a sign that they are set to take part in their first action of the season at senior level.
Iqbal featured heavily in United’s pre-season tour and clearly impressed manager Erik ten Hag, who has chosen to keep him at Old Trafford rather than send him out on loan.
If the boss decides to rest the likes of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek remains out injured, a starting berth could open up in central midfield for Iqbal, potentially alongside Casemiro and Fred.
Iqbal has not been named in the squad but would be eligible to play as a “B List” player, having been at the club for two years and being under 21 years of age.
The fact that he was given a run-out for the under 21’s last weekend could also be a hint that Ten Hag is trying to get him match fit in time for Thursday’s encounter.
Anthony Elanga probably has seniority, though, so the Argentinian is more likely to get minutes from off the bench.
Another player hoping to feature is loanee Martin Dubravka, who also featured heavily in Monday’s training, according to The MEN.
It could be that the keeper will be used in cup matches to keep him in shape and also to give David de Gea a break, especially given some of the long distance journeys that lie ahead in the group.
The same strategy used to be used for backup keeper Sergio Romero to good effect, who picked up a Europa League winners medal in 2017.
Dean Henderson was also used as the Europa League keeper in 2021 until the final, when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer controversially replaced him with De Gea, who failed to save a single one of 11 penalties before missing his own to give Villarreal the crown.
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