Erik ten Hag will be crossing his fingers that Marcus Rashford can recover from a knock to take his place in Manchester United’s starting lineup against Manchester City on Sunday.
With Anthony Martial already ruled out and Cristiano Ronaldo struggling for form, Rashford’s presence is all the more urgent for United.
However, he has not yet been reported spotted in training and with time ticking by, it is looking less and less likely that he will play.
Ten Hag is also not the kind of manager that will push a player to play when he’s not fully fit, so we expect it to be bench at best for the 24 year old.
This leaves Ten Hag with two options, to replace him with Cristiano Ronaldo or to play a false nine. In the two Europa League games against Sheriff Tiraspol and Real Sociedad he has opted for the former, but the 37 year old’s form has been disappointing.
His performances for Portugal this week have also been poor.
It should also be borne in mind that this time United will not be facing Moldovan minnows, it is the Manchester derby. A more defensive-minded line-up might be called for.
If Rashford doesn’t make it, we therefore expect that Ten Hag will draft in Casemiro for his first Premier League start and play with a false nine, probably Bruno Fernandes.
Casemiro would then partner Christian Eriksen in defensive midfield, with Scott McTominay getting behind the ball out of possession and making forward runs when United have the ball. Fred is another option but Donny van de Beek is also struggling for fitness and is very unlikely to be selected.
Antony is expected to play on the right wing and Jadon Sancho on the left, with some amount of rotation with Fernandes in the false 9.
With all that in mind, here is our predicted line-up for Sunday’s 2pm kick-off at the Etihad:
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