Erik ten Hag is expected to field a strong side for Manchester United’s friendly against Lens at Old Trafford tomorrow.
With a second match just 27 hours later in Dublin, it is possible that the first team regulars are split across the two games, but we think it’s more likely that something close to Ten Hag’s Premier League starting XI will feature tomorrow, whereas the Dublin match will showcase more fringe players needing minutes under their belt.
One player who almost certainly won’t play tomorrow is Rasmus Hojlund, whose unveiling as a Manchester United player has been widely tipped to take place on the pitch before the game.
Yesterday, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano confirmed that Hojlund has signed and is now a United player, but the club clearly want to use the Theatre of Dreams to make the announcement.
Whether he will play in Dublin may be made clearer at that stage.
United’s other two new signings, Andre Onana and Mason Mount, will almost surely start tomorrow.
With Dean Henderson still recovering from injury and having one foot out of the door and David de Gea and Nathan Bishop both having left the club, Tom Heaton and Radek Vitek are the only other goalkeeping options to Onana.
Mount could partner Casemiro in the holding midfield area, with Bruno Fernandes ahead of them in the number 10 role.
Fred missed the pre-season tour due to “personal reasons” and looks set to leave the club. Donny van de Beek has played, but also looks likely to leave, with Real Sociedad interested. Kobbie Mainoo picked up a nasty ankle injury on the tour that has ruled him out for a couple of months.
Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen are the other options.
Ten Hag’s preferred back four of late has clearly been Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw, although Wan-Bissaka was poor against Borussia Dortmund last week whereas Diogo Dalot scored a screamer and looked sharp.
We have therefore tipped Dalot to start.
Varane missed that Dortmund game with a slight knock, but is expected to return.
Tyrell Malacia missed pre-season through a muscular problem and is rated as having a 25% chance of being fit for United’s opening Premier League fixture against Wolves (source: premierinjuries.com). This means it’s highly unlikely he’ll feature tomorrow.
Up front, Anthony Martial is back in training but has not played a minute of pre-season so far. He may get minutes, but Ten Hag might also continue his experiment of playing Jadon Sancho in a false nine role, flanked either by Marcus Rashford on the left and Antony on the right, or by Alejandro Garnacho on the left and Rashford right.
In fact, it’s perm any three from four, as Ten Hag might also opt for Garnacho on the left, Rashford up front and either Sancho or Antony on the right.
Amad Diallo also picked up a knee injury early on the tour that has ruled him out of the start of the season.
Omari Forson did not impress on tour and was hauled off after 35 minutes against Dortmund. With Anthony Elanga having left for Nottingham Forest, Facu Pellistri is the only other wing option.
Here, then, is our predicted XI for tomorrow’s 12.45pm kick-off: