Mason Greenwood will start against Astana at Old Trafford

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Teenage striker Mason Greenwood will start Manchester United’s Europa League group game against Astana at Old Trafford on Thursday.

 

The 17-year-old has already made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season.

 

England under-21 defender Axel Tuanzebe will also start, alongside reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero and Brazilian midfielder Fred.

 

Winger Daniel James misses out after picking up a knock against Leicester.

 

The 21-year-old Welshman, who has scored three goals in five league games this season, joins midfielder Paul Pogba, forward Anthony Martial and defender Luke Shaw on the injury list.

 

However, midfielder Jesse Lingard has recovered from illness and is likely to be involved.

 

Greenwood had an impressive summer for United, scoring in pre-season victories over Inter Milan and Leeds after making his debut in a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League in March.

 

He will start his first game of the season on Thursday and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he has “matured in the last six months”.

 

“He’s still very young. I remember the kid who just wanted to play with his mates in the under-18s,” said Solskjaer. “Now he’s knocking on the door and his appetite for football must be growing.

 

“I just don’t want to put too much pressure on him. Mason’s one of the best finishers I’ve seen and I’ve played with a few decent ones.

 

“When you’re 17, 18, 19 years old, the next game is always the most important one. It doesn’t matter how many you scored last week.

 

“There will be 11 Astana players living the dream – it is one of the biggest games of their careers – but I want it to be a memorable one for our players as well.”

 

Tuanzebe made his debut in a 4-0 win over Wigan in the FA Cup in January 2017 and has made nine first-team appearances in total for Manchester United.

 

But he has played just one minute in the Premier League this season, coming on as a late substitute in Saturday’s narrow 1-0 victory over Leicester.

 

“It’s part of the process of growing. I remember my glimpses in the first team at 19 – it wasn’t to be then but now I’m 21 and things are starting to open up more. I know where I want to be going,” said Tuanzebe.

 

Solskjaer added: “If you don’t throw them in, you don’t know what you’ve got. I don’t see any other way of doing this.

 

“I’ve always done it wherever I’ve been, that’s my belief as a coach, to give a chance, an opportunity.”

 

Despite reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season, United entered the Europa League following a sixth-place finish in the Premier League.

 

They won this competition on their last appearance in 2016-17 and have never failed to go beyond the group stages.

 

It is the first time they come up against Kazakh champions Astana, who are competing in the Europa League for the fourth successive season.

Best of the stats

 

 

  • This will be the first-ever competitive meeting between an English side and a Kazakh side.

 

  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 11 Europa League games (W8, D3).

 

  • In last season’s Europa League, Astana became the third side to have as many as eight points from their opening four group games but fail to qualify for the knockout stages.

 

  • Manchester United have lost their last two home games in European competition – they’ve never lost three in a row at Old Trafford before.

 

  • After losing six of their first seven away games in major European competition (D1), Astana have lost just one of their last six on the road (W2, D3).
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