While Alex Ferguson has not officially announced the players lining up to face Europe XI on tuesday night, here’s the expected list of players based on recent injuries to several first-team players.
Keeper: Tomasz Kuszczak – Edwin van der Sar’s calf injury right before the Boro game started means that he’ll be doubtful for the Tuesday game. Knowing EVDS, he wouldn’t want to miss such a high-profile game, but Ferguson is still god in these parts of the world and he will most likely keep him back. Heaton will then be the token substitute keeper.
Defence: Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Heinze – Rio and Vidic picked up knocks in the Boro game are doubtful for the weekend game, so they might not feature here at all. I still expect Vidic to pull through and play, although for such a marquee game you’d expect Rio to come through as well.
There’s no defensive cover left, unless you dig in the reserves, so it’ll be interesting to see who Fergie names on the bench (Evra and Silvestre are out injured). If Evra recovers he will probably start and that will push Heinze to the bench.
Midfield: Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs – There is no way that Ronaldo would miss a game of this standing, and Scholes is free to play exhibition games, so this will be good practice for him. Carrick will probably play a limited role with the weekend game in mind, and so will Giggs.
On the bench, you can expect such grand names such as Kieran Richardson, Park Ji-Sung and Chris Eagles. Threadbare squad, what?
Strikers: Rooney, Smith – With Saha and Ole on the doctor’s table and Larsson playing for Europe XI, the only fit strikers United has are Rooney, Smith and Dong Fangzhou. Somehow you’d expect Maldini and Thuram to laugh at this front-line, only I have a sneaky feeling Smith or Dong will pull off a blinder.
Dong on the bench.
Neville, Brown, O’Shea, Heinze
Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs
Bench: Heaton, Eagles, Dong, Park, Richardson