Marcus Rashford has had shoulder surgery that will rule him out for the first few weeks of the season.
This means that Manchester United cannot name a first choice for the opening game against Leeds.
There are other factors influencing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection as well, with players of varying levels of fitness as they return for pre-season at different times due to international engagements.
New signing Jadon Sancho is one of those players whose availability for the game will be questionable.
According to the MEN report, he will start training for the first time on Friday. This means that Sancho will only have about a week of training with United before the game. Although he could play a role from the bench, Leeds are tough opponents to fight against.
What are United’s big options for the game without Sancho and Rashford from the start?
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Two out of six
Amad can be discounted as he won’t be ready either. He is traveling back from the Tokyo Olympics and will not be considered a starter.
That leaves five options that could be reduced to three before the game in Leeds.
The dicey one is Facundo Pellitri. The Uruguayan is expected to be loaned out before the transfer window closes. However, he impressed with a goal and assist in the pre-season and until Sancho regains his fitness United could delay Pellistri’s exit. He could end up as a surprise starter against Leeds if he’s still there.
Probably more on the right Bricklayer green wood. The teenager may have started all three games in the front but hasn’t seized his chance as a central striker and will likely play on the wing again if Sancho isn’t ready.
United are hoping to have either Anthony Martial or Edinson Cavani ready to start.
Speaking of which Anthony Martial, the Frenchman could be an option for the left wing in Rashford’s absence. He prefers to play centrally, but Solskjaer will be open-minded like last season, especially if he prefers Greenwood or Cavani centrally.
United has three other options on the left that could relieve Martial.
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One of them is impressive young talent Anthony Elanga, who was one of the stars of the preseason, netting twice so far. Elanga is now in the first team and has had a month of preparation training behind her. This could mean a lot for Solskjaer for this game.
In the previous home game against Leeds, one of the stars of the show was a surprise pick Dan James |, who scored in a gripping 6-2 win for United.
James’ pace was causing Leeds problems and Solskjaer might see him as a safer option than going with the less experienced Elanga.
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The last option that should not be overlooked is the player who ousted Rashford from the left wing for an extended period last season. Paul Pogba.
United may prefer Pogba to play as part of a midfield three-pointer, but the vacancy created by Rashford’s injury could make it a ‘must have’. Pogba’s own potential lack of gaming fitness may also make it less risky to play him across the board than in central midfield.
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