Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed he will make changes to his side for the Carabao Cup tie at Luton Town on Tuesday (20:15 BST kick-off).
The Reds have an opportunity to bounce back from the disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, with the suggestion that some players are in need of more minutes to get up to speed with match fitness after an unusual pre-season.
There are plenty of questions to be answered, but the manager is giving little away about the specific nature of the squad he will take south for the third-round clash.
Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe were out at the weekend due to injury, but there were no fresh knocks sustained in the 3-1 reverse to Palace.
“We’ll make some changes,” Ole told us on Monday at the Aon Training Complex.
“Of course we will. For some, it’s the pre-season and, for some, they’ve only been here for a week now, for different reasons. Some of them need game-time, they do and we can see we’re lacking in sharpness. We just need to make the most of the training sessions and games we have.”
Asked if there are any fitness concerns, the boss said: ”No injuries, no fresh injuries after that game [on Saturday] but, as I said, we’ll rotate and give some minutes. Some, after the game, will do some harder training this week to get ready for Brighton. Some will join the squad and go down there.”
It will be interesting to see if goalkeeper Dean Henderson makes his competitive debut for the club, after returning from loan, while it is hoped some individuals may be in a position to step up their fitness.
Mason Greenwood came off the bench at half-time against the Eagles, with goalscorer Donny van de Beek and Odion Ighalo the other substitutes used at Old Trafford.
LUTON TEAM NEWS
Manager Nathan Jones admits Jordan Clark is pushing for a place in the XI. The summer signing from Accrington Stanley has scored in consecutive games against Reading and Derby after coming off the bench.
“I’m thinking Clarky might have to start,” said Jones.
“He’s been unfortunate to be sub, with his performances throughout pre-season, but at the minute, both sides are winning games, so it’s keeping that continuity, keeping that winning feeling. But I won’t make the error to keep something that’s not vital to me away from the grass.”
Former Red Ryan Tunnicliffe was not involved against the Rams at the weekend, with Andrew Shinnie taking his place.
Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup tie against Luton Town gives Manchester United an early opportunity to recover from the weekend’s opening defeat in the Premier League.Read on for all the key details about our first knockout tie of 2020/21…
FOLLOW THE GAME
The action at Kenilworth Road will get under way at 20:15 BST, with live TV coverage in the UK available on Sky Sports. Club media will be all over it too of course, with frequent updates on ManUtd.com and in our Official App, while MUTV offers build-up from 19:10 BST followed by radio commentary and post-match analysis.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Up for grabs is a place among the last 16 teams in the competition, and unusually we already know the Reds or the Hatters will be away in the next phase. That’s because the fourth-round draw was made last Thursday night, pitting the winners of our tie against either Preston North End or Brighton & Hove Albion. Those two clubs meet on Wednesday evening at 19:00 BST so if we do go through at Luton’s expense, we’ll have to wait for almost another 24 hours to discover if we’ll head north into Lancashire or south to the Sussex coast next week.
HOW HAVE LUTON STARTED THE SEASON?
Very well. Nathan Jones’s side have won all four of their fixtures so far, knocking Norwich City (3-1 at home) and Reading (1-0 away) out of the Carabao Cup to reach this point and collecting maximum points from their league games at Barnsley (1-0) and against Derby County (2-1) at Kenilworth Road. The latter victory this weekend has put the Hatters third in the early Championship table, for their second campaign at that level since they were promoted as League One winners in 2018/19.
EARLY TEAM NEWS
It remains to be seen how many of the men Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fielded against Crystal Palace will keep their places in the team, as the manager may use this match to hand other members of his squad the minutes they need, given he only had that one pre-season friendly against Aston Villa to work with. The likes of Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Andreas Pereira haven’t featured in either of our September games so far.
Meanwhile, Luton’s line-up against Derby was unchanged from the XI that beat Barnsley in the preceding Championship game, which means United Academy graduate Ryan Tunnicliffe missed out. However, Tunnicliffe did play the full 90 minutes in last week’s Carabao Cup win at Reading and he’d be delighted if Jones rewards that selection with a run-out against the Reds, especially if his former team-mates Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba are on the pitch.
WHO ARE LUTON’S DANGER MEN?
Two players with the same initials – James Collins and Jordan Clark – have dominated the Hatters’ scoresheets so far this season. Republic of Ireland international Collins bagged all of his team’s goals, including a penalty, in the first-round triumph against Norwich and followed up that hat-trick with the winner at Barnsley in the Championship. Clark, a midfielder who began his career with Barnsley, his local club, registered the solitary strike away to Reading in the last round and then sealed Saturday’s victory over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County with minutes to spare.
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistant referees: Lee Venamore and Andrew Fox
Fourth official: Andy Woolmer