The English Premier League returns on Monday, 26 December 2022, but Manchester United are poised to play Burnley in the Carabao Cup. The match takes place on 21 December 2022, and preparations are already underway.
On Thursday, manager Erik ten Hag put the Red Devils players through their paces on the training pitch (via The Mirror). With the World Cup ending on Sunday as Argentina face France in the final, there are still a few notable absentees.
The absence of United’s stars means those in training can stake their claim to the starting 11 for Ten Hag’s team. Players returning from international duty such as the English and Portuguese contingent are back in training next week. According to the Mirror, there were plenty of positives from Thursday’s training session at Carrington:
1. Youngsters remain involved
United’s youngsters have been getting stuck into training to make a case for themselves.
Kobbie Mainoo is one such youngster who has impressed, scoring in the 4-2 defeat against Cadiz. Mainoo, Zidane Iqbal and Rhys Bennett were very much involved in the training session.
2. Martial grins again
Anthony Martial was the other Red Devils player on the scoresheet against Cadiz.
With United still searching for a Cristiano Ronaldo replacement and Marcus Rashford still returning, Martial could be the answer to ten Hag’s attacking problems.
3. Lindelof holds the fort
Senior centre-backs Maguire, Martinez, and Varane are still away.
Until their return, Victor Lindelof is the only fully fit senior centre-back ahead of the clash with Burnley. His contribution during the festive period will be invaluable.
4. Pellistri & Tuanzebe return
Uruguay did not have the World Cup story they’d hoped for, but a disappointing exit aside, one United player will be happy with his involvement – Facundo Pellistri.
Pellistri, despite battling to make his first appearance for the Red Devils, made three appearances for his country in Qatar.
Still only 20 years old, the winger will be keen to keep playing. If he’s unable to fashion a start for United, he may look further afield for match time.
The great news for United is that Axel Tuanzebe is also back in training after being plagued by injury. His last game for Manchester United was in the 2021 Europa League final.
More recently, he’s played on loan with Aston Villa and Napoli. Given the almost certain absence of the first string centre backs on Wednesday, Axel could have an outside chance of playing against the Clarets.
5. Ready to play
Elanga, Scott McTominay, and Donny van de Beek were firing on all cylinders during training at Carrington. Each of them has yet to secure a starting position. The festive season will give them a chance to get a foothold on Ten Hag’s starting roster.