The start of the Premier League campaign is still more than a month away, but pre-season matches will soon give supporters an indication of what to expect from their sides.
Manchester United’s first pre-season match is down under against Perth Glory on July 13th, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets the chance to start righting the wrongs of last season’s latter stages.
United won just two of their final 12 games last term and the tour to Australia, China and Singapore will represent the chance for Solskjaer to wipe the slate clean, to give players the opportunity to impress and stake a claim for a regular berth.
Here’s how the Norwegian might line up his side in that first pre-season encounter…
David De Gea joined up for pre-season training a little later than most of United players after being given an extended break. He travelled with the Spain national side for their qualifiers against Sweden and the Faroe Islands (on June 7th and 10th) but was on the bench as Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga started in goal.
De Gea is expected to fly out with the United touring party on Sunday, but Sergio Romero may well start the first match between the posts. Romero wasn’t in the Argentina squad for the summer’s Copa America so will be fresh and ready to get minutes under his belt. Dean Henderson is Solskjaer’s other option between the posts, but his short-term future is uncertain amid loan interest from Sheffield United and given De Dea’s contract situation, too.
Defence: Dalot, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw
Although Diogo Dalot featured for Portugal at the Under-20s World Cup in Poland over the summer, his tournament was over by May 31 as they were knocked out in the group stage. And with Aaron Wan-Bissaka not expected to feature in the first tour matches as he enjoys a rest following the Under-21 Euros, Dalot should get a chance at right-back.
Luke Shaw is United’s only specialist left-back and ought to get plenty of game-time on tour. He wasn’t in England’s Nations League squad, so is another who should be fresh.
The pre-season matches may also present a chance for Axel Tuanzebe to impress Solskjaer as a potential partner for Victor Lindelof in the centre of United’s defence after he was awarded a new three-year deal. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling endured poor seasons in 2018/19 but will, at various stages, get chances to show more consistency alongside first-choice Lindelof, as United continue to pursue Leicester’s Harry Maguire.
Midfield: Fred, Pereira, McTominay
Paul Pogba is another United player whose return to pre-season training has been delayed, but MEN Sport understands the Frenchman will return to Carrington in the coming days and is expected to fly out on tour, despite speculation linking him with a departure.
Neither Fred nor Andreas Pereira were selected in Brazil’s Copa America squad so should be given game-time early in the tour to lay down markers for the coming campaign following Ander Herrera’s exit. The latter will be especially keen to vindicate his new contract.
Scott McTominay played for Scotland against Belgium on June 11th but has been back in pre-season training and is a Solskjaer favourite in midfield. Pogba, Nemanja Matic and a new arrival in midfield should feature in pre-season at different points.
Forwards: James, Greenwood, Martial
With both Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard having featured for England in the Nations League, Alexis Sanchez back late after the Copa America and uncertainty over Romelu Lukaku’s future, United aren’t blessed with too many options in attack for the first pre-season match in Perth.
Lingard and Rashford may be considered, but Solskjaer is more likely use this game to give Mason Greenwood another start in attack — after he impressed in last season’s final game against Cardiff.
is another United player who has been on international duty over the summer, but Solskjaer will be excited about seeing the young Welshman in action. He should start, along with Antony Martial — another United player who needs to impress in pre-season.
Use the widget above to select your own United team for their pre-season tour opener against Perth Glory on July 13th.
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