The Carabao Cup second-leg semi-final fixture against Nottingham Forest will see Manchester United take the field without star midfielder Christian Eriksen.
After hobbling off with an ankle injury against Reading on Saturday during the team’s FA Cup fixture, Eriksen could be out for the foreseeable future.
While United will look to sign a midfielder in the remaining few hours of the transfer window, Erik ten Hag needs to field a replacement in the upcoming clash against Forest.
It is no secret that United do not have much squad depth, and with Donny van de Beek and Eriksen both out, the options in midfield are slim.
Ten Hag will look towards reinforcements in Fred, Kobbie Mainoo and Zidane Iqbal, with the former being the only experienced option available.
The Red Devils currently lead Forest 3-0 following the first-leg tie, and few people expect the Midlands side to overcome the deficit.
The game will present Ten Hag with a unique opportunity to test the strength he has on the bench. With several youngsters knocking on his door, a sizeable lead in the first leg may tempt the manager into trying a new midfield option.
Who should start for Manchester United?
While Fred will seem the obvious option to start against Forest, Iqbal and Mainoo could present a case for themselves with the opening in the squad.
Fred is the most experienced of the trio, and it is unlikely that Ten Hag will want to risk him in a game that is perhaps already won. With United facing a packed schedule in the next 30 days, the Brazilian could play an important part.
Iqbal has been training with the first team since the start of the season. However, he has not enjoyed many chances.
The youngster first played for the club last season, coming on in the 89th minute of a Champions League game.
While many people thought he would push on from there to more regular appearances for the first team, that has not been the case. He has only enjoyed one appearance for the first team.
A loan may be the best option for Iqbal when it comes to getting more game time, but even if that doesn’t pan out, a new opportunity beckons.
Due to his proximity to the first team and more advanced age, the 19-year-old could be a suitable option for the manager.
Mainoo also remains a fascinating option for United as the youngster looks to make his mark on the first team. The 17-year-old has impressed with the academy squad, with his technical prowess shining amongst other assets.
The Forest match could see Ten Hag employ the youngster. His sensational form means that he will be eager to prove his worth and likely challenge Iqbal for a place.
He has already looked composed and assertive on the ball during his cameo appearance against Reading, and a more promising role in the squad seems to be in the works.
It remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will trust the 17-year-old enough to start a first-team game for United.
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