Europa League: Man United boss van Gaal gambles on youth for Midtjylland tie; Rooney and Fellaini dropped
Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal has again placed his faith in youth ahead of their Europa League first leg tie against Midtjylland with 19-yr-old Joe Riley and 17-year-old Regan Poole likely to make their debuts against the Danish champions on Thursday night
Louis van Gaal has again placed his faith in youth ahead of Manchester United's Europa League first leg tie against Midtjylland.
Joe Riley, 19, and Regan Poole, 17, could make their United debuts against the Danish champions in Herning on Thursday night after they travelled with the squad to Denmark.
Wayne Rooney and Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal. Pic/AFP
Left-back Riley and centre-back Poole both played in the Under-21s' latest win over Reading on Monday evening and have been rewarded with a first-team promotion.
Riley has been in excellent form all season and Poole, who signed for United from Newport County last year, only made his U-21 bow last month.
Wayne Rooney, who has scored seven goals in nine games this year, was absent as squad members checked in at Manchester Airport on Wednesday morning.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has been rested and Marouane Fellaini was also omitted.
United were last demoted to the Europa League in 2011-12, when they faced Ajax in the last 32 before they were comprehensively beaten by Athletic Bilbao in the next round.
Meanwhile, Welsh starlet Poole would be hoping to impress if given a chance so that he can force his way into the his country's Euro 2016 squad. The 17-year-old centre back has impressed after joining from Newport County last summer.
The former Cardiff City youth product will hope to get his chance in the Europa League this season, in time to show Wales boss Chris Coleman exactly what he can do. He is currently an outside bet for the Euros but making his name at Old Trafford would certainly help his cause.
And Dutch boss Van Gaal has certainly shown he's happy to give youth a chance having handed defender Donald Love his debut last Saturday.
It is also to Poole's advantage that he plays in a position where Wales are hardly blessed, apart from captain Ashley Williams, only James Collins and James Chester are specialist centre backs, with the former now considered a veteran and the latter having enjoyed precious little game time at West Brom this season.
Manchester United squad for Midtjylland: De Gea, Romero, Love, McNair, Smalling, Blind, Poole, Riley, Carrick, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Lingard, Pereira, Weir, Mata, Memphis, Martial, Keane.