Down The Wings

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set to have his full squad as pre-season preparations intensify

(Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images) Harry Maguire along with the rest of the England contingent as well as Fred are set to report to training today

With Manchester United’s opening Premier League fixture against Leeds United less than two weeks away, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be upmost delighted to have his full squad back in training as pre-season preparations intensify.

On July 24th, following a friendly defeat at the hands of QPR, the Reds boss was quoted on the official club website saying that the players who reached both the Euros and Copa America final would join up with the rest of the team “in around 10 days’ time”, indicating that the likes of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Fred are set to show their faces at Carrington today.

Whilst the Norwegian will be pleased to have key players back at his disposal, Solskjaer will be wary that the squad needs trimming down. With four goalkeepers, 10 defenders, 10 midfielders and five forwards on the books, United currently have an unbelievable 29 senior players in the first team squad (30 with soon-to-be new signing Raphael Varane), excluding the likes of exciting youngsters such as Amad Diallo, Hannibal Mejbri and Anthony Elanga. This is a figure that would worry many of the Old Trafford faithful, as it would appear there is no clear path to the first team for the youngsters. The Theatre of Dreams has been a platform for young players to shine for many a generation, but whether it remains that way ultimately depends on whether the club are ruthless in removing the fringe players.

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Amongst the men that face a potential exit are midfielders, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard. Despite a run of games in pre-season, neither of the former youth stars grabbed the opportunity to stake a claim in the first team. With Bruno Fernandes having made the attacking midfielder position his own, it appears their days at Old Trafford are numbered.

Youngsters Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams struggled for minutes last campaign, and with the expected signings of Raphael Varane and Kieran Trippier both prominent, the Englishmen will find themselves even further down the pecking order and are actively seeking loan moves to Premier League clubs. Like Williams, Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot expects to suffer a similar fate if Trippier comes through the door. The injury-ridden Phil Jones is simply ‘unsellable’, as recently said by the Manchester Evening News.

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Aided by the arrival of Jadon Sancho, a whole host of world-class attacking talent surely signals the end of Daniel James’ spell in a red shirt, with the Welshman consistently disappointing on the biggest stage.

For many a year now, the club have struggled to remove those who are surplus to requirements as a result of high wages being offered to average performers. Many clubs cannot afford to take players off United’s hands on the wages they are on, accurately reflecting the poor state of the wage policy at Old Trafford.

Despite the fact there is still work to do in regard to outgoings, Reds fans should be excited for the upcoming week. United face Everton in their final pre-season match on Saturday 7th August, a game which will probably see a near-full strength United side now that the key men are back at Carrington, which provides the fans with an insight into the manager’s mindset ahead of the start of the season the following week.

With Sancho signed and Varane soon to follow, exciting times are ahead Old Trafford is set to be buzzing over the next months as fans are welcomed back into the grounds. The question remains, however, will the Red Devils trim a bloated squad

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