Manchester United will go up against Fenerbahce once again on Thursday night after defeating the Turkish giants 4-1 at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.
Jose Mourinho’s men could make a huge step towards qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages with a victory, but the Portuguese has rotated his squad for matches in this competition so far this season and it remains to be seen what kind of team he will select.
De Gea out, Romero in?
However, the former Chelsea manager might not have much of a choice when it comes to selecting his defence on Thursday. United are likely to stick with the same back four that drew against Burnley on Saturday, with Phil Jones and Timothy Fosu-Mensah being the only other defensive options available to Mourinho for the trip.
That should see Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw deployed at the back. Jones might have been a candidate to play but this isn’t the ideal game for him to make his return in, and Fosu-Mensah is probably more likely to play at centre-back than on the right given that Darmian was present at the pre-match press conference.
Before the last Europa League game, Mourinho claimed he only brought players to the press conference “that are going to start,” suggesting Darmian is in line to keep his place on Thursday.
The only change in the backline, therefore, could see Sergio Romero replace David de Gea in goal. This would be a good time to rest the Spanish stopper for what will be a long flight to Turkey.
Herrera should start in midfield
Ahead of the defence, Ander Herrera should be an obvious choice to start in midfield. The Spaniard has been in good form and his red card against Burnley last time out means Mourinho doesn’t have to worry about resting the tenacious midfielder for this weekend’s trip to Swansea City in the Premier League.
It would be no surprise to see him partnered by Paul Pogba, given that the Frenchman has started all three of United’s European games thus far this term. However, Mourinho might consider handing his star man a rest – the ex-Juventus playmaker has started all of United's last five games which came in the space of under two weeks.
Marouane Fellaini might be Mourinho’s chosen alternative – the Belgian has been deployed regularly by his new boss so far this campaign. Ahead of him and Herrera, Anthony Martial should return on the left while Juan Mata could start in the attacking midfield role again after he was taken off towards the end of the Burnley game.
With Martial on one side, Mourinho is likely to opt for a more disciplined winger on the other flank, and Ashley Young seems to be well trusted by the United boss for that type of role. This change would also allow Jesse Lingard to have a rest.
Wayne Rooney could complete the line-up as the team’s main striker so that fellow forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford can be rested for Sunday’s clash against Swansea.
Predicted XI: Romero; Darmian, Blind, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Fellaini; Young, Mata, Martial; Rooney.