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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Five Manchester United players facing crunch weekend in last pre-season audition

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The upcoming weekend could prove to be a crucial one for a handful of Manchester United players ahead of the new season. Erik ten Hag has secured new signings in key areas, with Andre Onana replacing David De Gea in goal; Mason Mount bolstering the midfield; and Rasmus Hojlund looking set to fill the striker void at old Trafford. Despite a positive summer so far, there are fringe players who would have hoped to assert their place in the side across pre-season. United are preparing for a double-header with Lens and Athletic Club over the weekend. It will be the last chance for some players to stake their claim ahead of the Premier League opener with Wolves. READ: Manchester United’s possible 20-man Premier League squad vs Wolves including Rasmus Hojlund Harry Maguire The former captain looked more confident in his first pre-season outing as a substitute in the win over Arsenal, but struggled to impress in the games against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, getting a mixed reception from some United fans. The England defender was notably berated by Onana during the latter after a mistake allowed the German side to have two shots at goal in quick succession. While not in Ten Hag’s starting XI, Maguire still has the opportunity to prove himself as an important squad player, with the club aiming to compete on four fronts next season. However, he is running out of time to prove that he can get back to his best, without the armband. Anthony Martial The striker would have hoped to use pre-season as a chance to prove he can be relied upon by Erik ten Hag as the club searched for a new striker. Unfortunately, the France striker was sidelined throughout United’s tour of the States and will seemingly face a fresh challenge to keep Rasmus Hojlund out of the team. Martial has demonstrated his clear goal scoring ability during his time at Old Trafford, but has struggled to stay fit since scoring 23 times during the 2019/20 campaign. He needs to remind his manager that he already has a quality striker within his ranks. Jadon Sancho Sancho has managed to get among the goals during pre-season, scoring against Arsenal. The winger found his way back into the side in the second half of last season and will hope to carry that momentum into the new campaign. The question is whether he can maintain a starting spot, either at Antony’s expense or as a false nine while young forward Rasmus Hojlund gets to grips with life at United. The weekend could prove pivotal in Sancho nailing down his spot in the starting XI, one way or another. Donny van de Beek Van de Beek showed what he still has in his locker as he made his long-awaited return for United against Lyon. The Dutchman’s volley, shortly after coming on at half-time, proved to be the winner at Murrayfield. Even though it was a friendly, Van de Beek admitted that he had been “looking forward to this moment for months”. He has since been used sparingly by Ten Hag and it remains to be seen whether he will be kept around the squad or manage to seal a move away from United. Diogo Dalot The right-back certainly made his presence known during the US tour, through his stunning strike against Dortmund. However, that was the first time this summer that Dalot had started ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The pair are in a battle for the right-back spot, with Dalot beginning last term as first choice before a mix of suspension and injury saw Wan-Bissaka take his place. Dalot grabbed the headlines against Dortmund and can use this weekend to catch his manager’s eye, once again.Story SavedYou can find this story in  My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.

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