Manchester United began their pre-season training on Monday, but they are still missing several first-team stars due to international commitments.
As many as 10 players have been involved at the European Championships, while Edinson Cavani and Fred have also been on international duty in Copa America.
A dozen players are expected to return late for pre-season. Eric Bailly and Amad Traore will also miss the start as they are due to represent Ivory Coast at the Olympics.
Hence, there could be several young graduates involved in the upcoming friendlies. They have the chance to leave a big impression on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pre-season plans and opponents
United won’t be travelling abroad this summer. Before the friendlies, they are due to embark on a week-long UK training camp, as per the club’s website.
Only four friendlies have been scheduled. They start their pre-season campaign with a trip to Pride Park to face Derby County, who are managed by club legend Wayne Rooney.
Their next friendly will see them travel to face Queens Park Rangers before returning to Old Trafford for the final two pre-season matches.
Newly-promoted Brentford will be their next opponents towards the end of June before taking on Rafael Benitez’s Everton a week before the new campaign.
The preparation is not ideal, with several players missing the start of pre-season, but Solskjaer will hope that they can secure valuable minutes ahead of the curtain-raiser.
United have a winnable schedule on paper as they don’t face any of last season’s top-six until September 19 when they make the trip to West Ham United.
However, they have let themselves down from similar situations in the past, and Solskjaer will be optimistic that his players can make a strong start to the campaign.
Pre-season friendlies (announced so far)
Derby County vs Manchester United – July 18
Queens Park Rangers vs Manchester United – July 24
Manchester United vs Brentford – July 29
Manchester United vs Everton – August 8
Stats from Manutd.com