Date: 28th November 2019 at 6:59am
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Manchester United return to Europa League action on Thursday evening when they travel to Kazakhstan to face Astana. 

The Red Devils have already sealed their spot in the last-32 after picking up 10 points from their opening four matches but know another victory will see them take a big step towards securing top spot in Group L.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have so far beaten Astana 1-0, drew 0-0 away to AZ Alkmaar and recorded back-to-back wins over Partizan Belgrade.

However, despite qualifying with two games to spare, United have only scored five goals in those four matches but are yet to concede.

This match against the Kazakhstan side comes four days after a game in which the Old Trafford outfit were anything but solid at the back in the 3-3 draw at Sheffield United.

Despite coming from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, Solskjaer saw his side concede a late equaliser which leaves his side ninth in the table with 13 matches played.

Solskjaer will view the Europa League as a welcome distraction from domestic struggles.

Premier League form has made the Europa League even more important for the club as it currently looks unlikely that a top-four finish is achievable.

This means that United’s most realistic chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League would be to win this competition – something they achieved under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

But having already advanced to the knockout stage, and with a busy domestic calendar coming up, which side will Solskjaer put out to face Astana?

The Norwegian boss, who has left assistants Michael Carrick and Scott McKenna at home to prepare for the Premier League match against Aston Villa, has picked a youthful travelling party.

In goal it’s been confirmed that Lee Grant will get an opportunity behind a defence containing full debutants Ethan Laird (right-back) and Di’Shon Bernard (centre-back).

Bernard is expected to start alongside Axel Tuanzebe with Luke Shaw, who’s making his way back from injury, in line to take his spot at left-back.

Midfielder Dylan Levitt will start in midfield for his full senior bow alongside 18-year-old James Garner and the senior pro Jesse Lingard.

In attack, there will be no Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial or Daniel James with Solskjaer set to field the youthful trio of Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood, who scored the winner against Astana at Old Trafford.

On the bench, defender Max Taylor, who has fought his way back from testicular cancer, is in the squad for the first time and could make his debut at some stage.

Man Utd predicted XI: Grant; Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Shaw; Garner, Levitt, Lingard; Chong, Gomes; Greenwood.

 
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