Juan Mata returns as five injury issues force Solskjaer’s hand vs Real Sociedad

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to name a strong Manchester United lineup against Real Sociedad as the Red Devils return to the Europa League.

But last season’s semi-finalists face being without five first-team stars for the game being played in Turin.

However, the return of Juan Mata after a three-week absence is a boost.

Both Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani were not part of the United travelling party due to injury.

The duo each played some part in the weekend draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, but are both missing for the clash with the La Liga side.

Solskjaer confirmed on Wednesday that both men have suffered muscle injuries, and have duly remained at home.

Solskjaer also confirmed that United will continue to go without World Cup winner Paul Pogba – and that he won’t feature again this month.

"With Paul, he's recovering well," Solskjaer said. "He's starting the treatment and will still be a few weeks, he won't be playing in February, that's for sure.

“So still a few weeks until we see Paul, definitely.”

The Manchester derby at the Etihad on March 6 is seen as the first potential date when the Frenchman could return.

That isn’t the end of United’s issues in midfield and attack however.

Despite travelling to Italy, both Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial aren’t expected to be risked with minor issues hampering the duo.

Both will be assessed, but Mason Greenwood and Nemanja Matic are set to get the nod as the No.9 and Fred's midfield partner respectively.

Also in line for a start is Mata, conspicuous by his absence in recent weeks.

The 32-year-old has not been named in a matchday squad since the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United three weeks ago and was absent for the games against Arsenal, Southampton, Everton, West Ham and West Brom.

Solskjaer remained coy on his absence when quizzed at his pre-match press conference: "Juan's been away for a little while.

"And, of course, you miss [him]. Against West Brom, you're thinking, do we have someone there to unlock the door? If we had Juan to create that pass. Because he has done well in the earlier part of the season.

"Now he's back, he's travelling with us, he's been bright in training.

“If we see Juan on the pitch I'm sure he'll want to prove to his Spanish fans what a quality player he is."

Dean Henderson is expected to get the nod in goal, while Eric Bailly could start ahead of Victor Lindelof

Also included on the bench will be young duo Amad and Shola Shoretire.

Probable Starting Lineup: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip

Source: Read Full Article