Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of options available to him, as he formulates the starting XI for Manchester United’s opening match of Tour 2019 against Perth Glory at Optus Stadium.
Manchester United manager Solskjaer has taken a 28-man squad to Australia for the first phase of pre-season and his training sessions at the local cricket ground, The WACA, have been sharp and intense all week.
After arriving Down Under on Monday and completing a light stretching session at the team hotel, the hard work began on Tuesday when Solskjaer held two sessions, in the morning and evening.
The Red Devils trained once on Wednesday and completed another couple of workouts on Thursday: the second of those was watched by almost 12,000 fans, with their $5 ticket price going to charity.
Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial were the only players from the squad who did not take part in that session. Instead, they completed some alternative gym-based work away from the group.
The Belgium and France internationals trained fully with the squad on Friday morning, as our cameras exclusively captured, however, it remains to be seen if they are available to face Perth Glory.
The first match of any pre-season tour traditionally provides an opportunity to watch the club’s new players in action and that will hopefully be the case on Saturday, at the impressive Optus Stadium.
Wales international Daniel James joined United from Swansea City in June and he reported for pre-season training on Monday 1 July, working with his new team-mates every day since then. As a result, the 21-year-old speed demon is presumably fit and raring to go ahead of our first friendly.
Fledgling right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also expected to feature, although he has completed less training than James after joining the United squad on Sunday 7 July. That was due to him enjoying a mini break, after his appearances with England’s Under-21s at the European Championship.
Promoting young players and providing them with invaluable experiences of the first team is also a vital part of any pre-season tour at United, so expect to see some of our prospects on Saturday.
Solskjaer has named 12 players in his Tour 2019 traveling squad who are 24 years old or younger, including the four talented Academy graduates who have been in and around the senior group since his appointment as manager: Tahith Chong, James Garner, Mason Greenwood, and Angel Gomes.
Developing goalkeeper Joel Pereira is also back after two loan spells in Portugal and Belgium, while center-back Axel Tuanzebe is training well following his season-long loan at Aston Villa.
Perth Glory defender Alex Grant is injured and, as a lifelong United fan from Manchester who emigrated in 2005, he is devastated that he cannot face his club.
The no.2 grew up in Worsley and his family had season tickets at Old Trafford when he would idolize our iconic defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
I am absolutely gutted, he said. I am carrying a knock from last season and I have been having a bit of trouble with my groin, but I am on the up. I am back running on the park, I am out there with the balls and I should be right for the start of the season so I am happy about that.
So he would have looked after Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku if fit? Oh easy, he joked. No problem! No, I don’t know about that. My brother is a massive United fan as well and he said I need to get somebody’s shirt, so I will have my eye out and I will be on the pitch at the end of the game.