Manchester United are set to host Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night. The two sides went head-to-head at Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday, with the Villans coming out on top courtesy of a 3-1 victory. Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag could be set to ring the changes for the cup clash as he looks to keep players fresh for Sunday’s league showdown with Fulham – and Express Sport takes a look at four players who need to impress the Dutchman.
United captain Harry Maguire could be in line for a start against the west Midlands giants after failing to make it onto the pitch last time out. The 29-year-old has fallen out of favour since Ten Hag took charge of the team and is no longer a regular starter in the Premier League.
But Maguire will be desperate to show his manager he still has what it takes to succeed at the club and will be looking to command the backline and help his team keep a clean sheet. Maguire is set to discover whether he has made it into the England World Cup squad on Thursday. So he’ll either be on cloud nine ahead of kick-off or down in the dumps.
Another player who will be hoping to hear good news from Gareth Southgate on Thursday is winger Jadon Sancho. But the 22-year-old will have to ignore the emotions kindled by the England boss’ decision and get his head in the right space for the clash with Villa if called upon.
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Sancho has endured a dismal campaign to date and has registered just two goals and one assist in 14 matches. The player has failed to hit the heights expected of him when he signed for the club from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2021. And if he can’t perform in the Carabao Cup, Ten Hag could soon be asking himself whether he still persists with the player in the Premier League.
Anthony Martial would have arguably been Ten Hag’s first-choice striker this season if he had been fit. But the France international has suffered with hamstring, Achilles and back problems and has only appeared in five matches.
Martial came off the bench for the last 25 minutes of United’s clash with Villa on Sunday as he made his first appearance in nearly a month. And he could do with a big performance at Old Trafford to persuade Ten Hag to select him upfront ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford throughout the second half of the season.
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Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s United career appears to have fallen off a cliff and he has played just four minutes of football this season. The 24-year-old had been tipped to become one of the best defenders in the Premier League when he moved to Old Trafford from Crystal Palace in 2019.
Ten Hag might not even give the right-back an opportunity to impress on Thursday night. But if he does, Wan-Bissaka will need to produce the performance of his life to convince his manager that he still has a future at the club.