Manchester United will return to UEFA Europa League action on Thursday when Turkish side Fenerbahce travel to Old Trafford.
After earning an away draw against Liverpool on Monday night, the Red Devils will be hoping for a win against a side which includes ex-United striker Robin van Persie in its ranks.
Rooney and Van Persie meet again
While the Dutchman is sure to get a great reception from the United crowd after his fine form in the 2012/13 campaign led Sir Alex Ferguson’s team to their most recent Premier League title, Van Persie’s strike partner from that season, Wayne Rooney, will be hoping to steal the limelight from his former colleague.
Rooney was dropped by boss Jose Mourinho last month and is yet to get back into the starting XI, but the captain should be handed an opportunity for this game. The Europa League doesn’t seem to be a priority in United’s season and with an away game against Chelsea coming up on Sunday, there could be a few players rested against Fenerbahce.
Mourinho will still want to put out a strong team, though. Sergio Romero started the last European game and the Argentine could replace David de Gea in goal, but Eric Bailly and Daley Blind – who both started at Anfield on Monday – could feature at centre-back.
That would hand Chris Smalling a rest, and Antonio Valencia will probably be left out to ensure he is fresh for the next game, too. Luke Shaw’s place in the starting XI has already been confirmed and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who has just signed a new contract, could make up the back four.
Fellaini, Young to retain places?
In midfield, Mourinho is likely to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 set-up, which would allow him to rest Ander Herrera. The Spaniard has impressed recently and he should be kept fresh for the visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Marouane Fellaini also did well against Liverpool last time out but he should retain his place and Mourinho may also keep Paul Pogba in the side – the Frenchman has started both of the club’s last two Europa League matches.
Ashley Young was another man who played well against the Merseyside outfit, and he too could retain his place with doubts remaining over Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s fitness. However, the remainder of the front four should be made up of other players being recalled to the XI.
The aforementioned Rooney should start as the central striker in the hope of giving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford a rest, while Anthony Martial should return on the left after he was mysteriously omitted from the squad against Liverpool. Juan Mata will then complete the XI in his favoured number ten role.
Predicted XI: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Fellaini, Pogba; Young, Mata, Martial; Rooney.