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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 20 October, 2014

Manchester United without SEVEN first-choice players for Swansea game

Louis van Gaal confirms the extent of club’s injury problems

LOUIS VAN GAAL’s first competitive game in charge of Manchester United will certainly be a challenge.

The Dutchman revealed at his press conference today that he will be without seven first-choice players for Saturday’s Premier League opener with Swansea.

Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Antonio Valencia and Jonny Evans have joined Rafael, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick in the treatment room. The injury to Evans is a particular irritant as that leaves Van Gaal with just two fit, senior centre-backs in Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.

Given United have spent quite a while growing accustomed to a 3-4-3 formation, it means that 20 year-old Tyler Blackett, who excelled during United’s pre-season tour of the US, could be handed his first-team debut, on the left side of a back-three.

Soccer - Pre Season Friendly - Manchester United v Valencia - Old Trafford

Tyler Blackett could be in line to make his competitive debut for Manchester United debut on Saturday.

Source: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/Press Association Images

With Shaw, Rafael and Valencia all ruled out, it means Ashley Young is likely to start in a right wing-back position with another 20 year-old, Reece James, on the opposite flank.

Despite the upheaval, particularly in wide areas, on the eve of such a big game, Van Gaal isn’t nervous or anxious.

When quizzed on United’s problems on the left flank in particular, owing to a lack of cover being brought in, Van Gaal went someway to shedding a light on the club’s transfer activity and hinted that he may not move for another left-footed defender.

Van Gaal also admitted that Wayne Rooney’s attitude was the reason behind him being named captain for the new season.

He accepted the responsibility. I like him very much – how he trained and also how he performed in the games and how he performed to his fellow players.”

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