Manchester United’s rejuvenation under Erik ten Hag came to a screeching halt during Sunday’s dismal derby defeat by Manchester City.
But the Europa League gives him an immediate opportunity to shake things up and get back on track ahead of Sunday night’s Premier League trip to Everton.
Therefore, all eyes will be on his team selection for Thursday’s fixture against Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus.
Manchester United’s rejuvenation under Erik ten Hag completely collapsed during the derby
The Red Devils suffered an embarrassing 6-3 defeat to City in the Manchester derby on Sunday
Ten Hag will need to find the perfect balance between selecting a squad that will win the game and giving certain players time to rest following the international break.
A victory against Omonia is a non-negotiable. United suffered a 1-0 defeat by Real Sociedad in their opening game of the Europa League on September 8. They went on to beat Sheriff 2-0 thanks to goals from Jason Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, getting more points on the board will be vital for not only United, but Ten Hag – who will face severe backlash if the Red Devils suffer another disappointing defeat.
Sunday’s Premier League fixture with Everton will also be on Ten Hag’s mind. He will be eager to rest a select number of players for the upcoming fixture as United need to pick up points domestically.
They are currently sixth in the table – with Arsenal, Man City, Tottenham, Brighton and Chelsea all ahead of them. They can’t afford to drop points against 11th place Everton.
So, with all of that in mind, Sportsmail has taken a look at how the Red Devils could line-up for their Europa League fixture on Thursday.
All eyes will be on Ten Hag’s selection for their Europa League clash against Omonia in Cyprus
David de Gea appears to be Ten Hag’s full-time No 1 goalkeeper – even in the Europa League.
The Spaniard has played every single minute of United’s matches in all competitions so far this season and faces little threat from fellow stoppers Martin Dubravka and Tom Heaton.
De Gea was helpless to prevent City from running riot on Sunday and could do little to prevent Erling Haaland and Phil Foden’s hat-tricks.
He will surely keep his place on Thursday night.
Raphael Varane was withdrawn from the first half of the Manchester derby on Sunday after sustaining an ankle injury.
The extent of the injury has not been declared and, although he hasn’t been ruled out of Thursday’s fixture, it seems unlikely he will play.
Harry Maguire also missed United’s clash with City due to a hamstring issue he picked up while away on international duty with England. It seems unlikely he will be thrown back in from the start in Cyprus.
Therefore, Ten Hag will most likely select a back four understood of Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw.
Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire could both miss the fixture on Thursday due to injury
Shaw is expected to start after Ten Hag said he was impressed with his England performance
Shaw will come in to replace Tyrell Malacia, who struggled to contain City on Sunday after an impressive start to life in English football.
Phil Foden terrorized the 23-year-old former Feyenoord left back, who was hooked off by Ten Hag at half time.
Meanwhile, Ten Hag said he was impressed by Shaw during the international break.
The defender started for the Three Lions against Germany and occupied a wing-back role. His inspired performance saw him find the back of the net as England fought back to draw 3-3 with Germany.
Speaking about Shaw, the United manager said: ‘He [Shaw] didn’t play just well he played really well. Luke Shaw played really strong against Germany and we saw a lot, we are happy with the performances from our players.
‘It reflects well with what we are doing with players here at Manchester United and that reflects in this moment with the training this morning, there was really high level of energy and the level of performance of training was good which gives me confidence for the upcoming period.’
Ten Hag will have to make some big decisions when it comes to Manchester United’s midfield trio.
The Dutchman is most likely going to start Casemiro over Scott McTominay on Thursday night, given the need to get some minutes into the Brazilian’s legs.
This would see the Brazil international make just his second start for United, despite being bought for £70million in the summer, with the other coming against Real Sociedad.
Bruno Fernandes is likely to continue as the No 10. Ten Hag faces a delicate balance in resting key players but ensuring United don’t drop more points.
In this case, it’s likely the Portuguese star retains his place especially if the pair of deeper midfielders behind him are both new.
Additionally, Fred could come in for Christian Eriksen. The Danish playmaker has started every single game for his club and country this season but that could change on Thursday evening.
Casemiro could be handed his second Manchester United start after arriving from Real Madrid
Fred could come into the squad to replace his United team-mate Christian Eriksen
Eriksen was off the pace against Manchester City. However, that could have been down to tiredness due to the international break.
Eriksen was praised for his performance during Denmark’s Nations League game against France. He was heavily involved in both goals as Denmark managed to win the game 2-0.
The 30-year-old was handed the Man of the Match award after the game. However, he struggled to provide the same level of performance for United on Sunday.
In addition, statistically, Eriksen has only provided two assists for United far this season. Those came against Arsenal and FC Sheriff. Ten Hag needs more from his midfielders going forwards.
Therefore, resting Eriksen on Thursday evening could be beneficial in the long run. It will also give the likes of Fred the opportunity to show his worth to the United manager.
When looking at United’s forward line, it’s safe to say Cristiano Ronaldo will come into the starting XI. Ronaldo has been enduring a difficult time as of late but the Dutch manager seems happy to select him for European games.
Ronaldo scored the first Europa League goal of his career when United beat Sheriff Tiraspol. It also marked his first goal of the 2022-2023 campaign overall.
The veteran forward will be eager to add to his tally after failing to find the back of the net during Portugal’s games against Czech Republic and Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo will most likely lead the line for the Red Devils on Thursday evening
Meanwhile, Man United youngster Anthony Elanga could return to the fold for the Red Devils
Anthony Elanga could also make the starting line-up for Manchester United on Thursday. The 20-year-old would be effective hassling Omonia from the front.
His inclusion would likely Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford drop to the bench after both were abject in the City defeat.
Paul Scholes ripped into Sancho – claiming he abandoned team-mate Malacia off the ball as City tore the Red Devils apart.
Graeme Souness also told Rashford he needed to get himself in gear if he wanted to reach his full potential as a footballer.
Anthony Martial did well to come off the bench on Sunday and score two goals for United. However, given the fact he has just returned from injury, he may continue to start on the sidelines.
That leaves Anthony to complete the attack on the right-hand side. The Brazilian scored a sublime goal against City and has made an impressive start to life at Old Trafford.
If Martial is played from the start by Ten Hag, then expect Antony to be the one to drop out for the Frenchman.
Manchester United’s potential starting XI for their clash against Omonia on Thursday evening