MK Dons play host to Manchester United on Tuesday night in what has been described as the biggest match in the club’s history by manager Karl Robinson.
Both the Dons and the Reds drew at the weekend, but Karl Robinson’s side has had a brighter start to the season than that of Louis van Gaal’s United squad.
The Dons currently lie seventh in League One with 7 points from their first four league games. Their 0-0 stalemate with Coventry City provided little entertainment in the same way that Manchester United’s sluggish performance at the Stadium of Light brought dismay to United’s traveling supporters in Sunderland.[getty src=”454145927?et=E0c5kA3jTt96WcDTWFJGFQ&sig=h8XfDw0bD0AeeUaylJfphYHvvB_a3nVGFc0GeBo-HV4=” width=”594″ height=”390″]
‘Our season starts now’ was the comments from Wayne Rooney after United’s opening day defeat to Swansea City. The new start to the season wasn’t taken advantage of though and with 8 first team players still injured, United are crying out for signings.
Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera will both be subject to assessment very close to the match but Marcos Rojo has yet to sort out his seemingly difficult work permit situation. Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Anderson are all certain to miss United’s first League Cup Second Round match in over a decade. Jonny Evans began training with the first team last Thursday but the medics at United are still unsure whether he’s fit enough to play.
MK Dons’ two man injury table will seem like the promised land for United but full-back Lee Hodson will miss the encounter with an ankle injury while goalkeeper David Martin is still recovering from a hip injury.
“We’ll have to put our crash helmets on and park the bus and do all the things you have to do with the good teams”
It seems that unlike the Premier League sides which are taking advantage of United’s lack of confidence, Karl Robinson is set to sit back and allow United to dominate them.
The Dons are by no means weak in attack, however. Bens Reeves and Daniel Powell offer an attacking threat which could be used to capitalise on the defensive frailty’s seen in United’s back line against Swansea and Sunderland.
With Smalling, Shaw, Rojo and Evans all unavailable United are likely to start younger players Tyler Blackett, Michael Keane and Tom Thorpe in a three man defence. Reece James, who played a couple of games during United’s impressive pre-season, will retake his pre-season wing back role. Guillermo Varela is available on the other flank should van Gaal go right into the youth team for the League Cup but Ashley Young or Antonio Valencia could be preferred to give the team a bit of experience.
Sam Johnstone or Ben Amos will start in goal while David De Gea has one of his few rests in the season.
Carrick, Herrera and Fellaini will all sit out Tuesday’s encounter so van Gaal may have to turn to youth in midfield as well. Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell could start behind Nick Powell, one of the brightest talents in United’s youth teams. Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher both played on Sunday but could be relied upon should required.
James Wilson, who had a brief yet emphatic cameo appearance at the end of last season when he scored two goals in sixty minutes on his debut, is expected to start alongside Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez. Shinji Kagwa and Adnan Januzaj are both available after not featuring in the 1-1 draw against Sunderland on Sunday.
While Adnan Januzaj took his chance last season by the scruff of the neck and made himself known globally, MK Dons have their own star youngster in 18 year old Delle Ali who has been scouted by various Premier League clubs several times.
In charge of the whistle at Stadium:mk will be Stuart Attwell, the youngest official to take charge of a Premier League match in the history of the competition.
The Dons will be taking in the atmosphere more than looking for the win, even with an extra days rest over United there won’t be an upset in Milton Keynes. The real question is will van Gaal go with youth or try to bring as many experienced players in as he can to try to get his first competitive win as Manchester United manager.
Manchester United have certainly been off the mark so far but they have a brilliant chance to get a win that they can build on with players returning and players arriving. They need to take the chance though, something they haven’t done in 12 months.
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