Dean Henderson is pushing to make his Manchester United debut as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rotates his side in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup clash at Luton.
Having kicked off the 2020/21 campaign with a chastening 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace in the Premier League, the Red Devils turn their attention to a competition they reached the semi-finals of last season.
Solskjaer will, unsurprisingly, make alterations in the third-round clash at Kenilworth Road, where Henderson could make his first appearance for the club he joined aged 14.
The academy product spent time on loan at Stockport, Grimsby and Shrewsbury before two successful stints at Sheffield United, where his form led to a senior England call-up and a new United deal until at least 2025.
“We’ll make some changes, of course we will,” Solskjaer said ahead of the match against Luton.
“For some, it’s the pre-season and, for some, they’ve only been here for a week now, for different reasons.
“Some of them need game-time, they do and we can see we’re lacking in sharpness.
“We just need to make the most of the training sessions and games we have.
Next up, we’re on the road for our third round #CarabaoCup tie…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 20, 2020
“No injuries, no fresh injuries after that (Palace) game but, as I said, we’ll rotate and give some minutes.
“Some, after the game, will do some harder training this week to get ready for Brighton. Some will join the squad and go down there.”
Donny Van De Beek, Odion Ighalo and Mason Greenwood came off the bench at the weekend, when Henderson was an unused substitute along with Fred, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Eric Bailly.
Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe remain sidelined for the trip to Luton, where Solskjaer wants United’s players to “show we are ready to kick on” after such a sloppy start to the season.
“We need four or five games to get up to the standard we know we’re capable of,” Solskjaer said, having had precious little time to prepare for the new season.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to get those games in and we have to make sure, in these games, we get the minutes and make the players ready to start competing in the league again.
“Brighton away is going to be a very tough one so we’ll use this one, we want to get through, but it’s also minutes for a few.”
Luton sit third in the Sky Bet Championship after back-to-back wins against Barnsley and Derby, plus Nathan Jones’ side have beaten recently-relegated Norwich and table-topping Reading in the Carabao Cup.
“It’s a team with confidence and they’re playing Man United, of course it will be a big game for them,” Solskjaer said of the Hatters.
“But it’s a big game for our players, the ones who get a chance, as they need to show they are ready to be called upon.
“Cup games are cup games, of course. Luton have got their style, Nathan Jones has come back now after doing so well with them and getting them promoted.
🔜 We've got plenty of #MondayMotivation this week…
— @LutonTown (@LutonTown) September 21, 2020
“They’re a team that’s direct with high intensity, aggressive and, of course, set-plays – you worry about when you play teams with centre-backs, well, that are a bigger size than me anyway.”
Luton may also have a familiar face involved in the form of Ryan Tunnicliffe, who was part of United’s 2011 FA Youth Cup-winning side alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
“I noticed he wasn’t in the squad this latest league game,” Solskjaer said of Tunnicliffe, who made two appearances in the League Cup for United. “Hopefully he’s not injured and hopefully we’ll see Ryan.
“I had him in the reserves and I’m glad to see he’s having a career.
“He was always an attacking midfielder, box-to-box, and it’s always good to see them back.
“The academy is fantastic, from when we get them in at an early age we make sure they get careers as well.
“Ryan was close to making it here but it just didn’t happen for him.
“I’m happy to see the likes of him and other players make good careers somewhere else.”