Rangnick may opt for youth for Chelsea visit

Rangnick concedes defeat in top-four race

With a lengthy absentee list for Thursday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea, Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has admitted he may be forced to turn to the club’s academy prospects to bolster his squad (Manchester United 11/5, draw 5/2, Chelsea 23/20 – Match Betting).

United could be without at least seven senior players against the Blues due to a combination of illness and injury.

Fred is still out with his hip injury, Harry Maguire has a knee issue, Edinson Cavani remains sidelined with his calf injury, Luke Shaw is still absent with his leg injury and Paul Pogba will not play again this season due to a calf injury.

Add to that Jadon Sancho is ill and unavailable, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a major doubt due to an unspecified problem and United are down to the bare bones.

Rangnick could therefore turn to the likes of Hannibal, who featured as a late substitute in the recent 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, and talented youngsters Alejandro Garnacho and Alvaro Fernandez as he looks to give youth a chance in the remainder of the season. Garnacho is a 17-year-old Spanish forward while Fernandez is a 19-year-old defender.

When asked about selecting a youthful side to take on Thomas Tuchel’s men, Rangnick said: “It’s possible. We have quite a few players missing and one or two still with question marks so we will have to wait and see.

“I already played Hannibal at Liverpool so it’s possible [to play youngsters] but we also have to be fair enough to those players.

“It has to be the right moment, they should have a chance to play well and perform well so it’s not just pushing them into a game. I think it should also be the right moment.”

The Red Devils chances of finishing fourth (50/1) took another hit last time out when they lost 3-1 at Arsenal and, ahead of Thursday’s Old Trafford showdown, they sit sixth, six points behind the fourth-placed Gunners having already played a game more.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are expected to finish third this season as they remain five points clear of Mikel Arteta’s men currently with a game in hand.

Tuchel could have centre-back Antonio Rudiger back available again despite recent confirmation he will be leaving Chelsea this summer while Reece James should be fit and Andreas Christensen is expected to feature after recovering from stomach cramps.

Ben Chilwell is out with his long-term knee injury, while Mateo Kovacic (ankle) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (calf) are both also absent for the visitors.

Author: Lucille White