Newcastle v Manchester United team news: Varane & Cavani in line for returns

Ralf Rangnick and Eddie Howe provided updates on their respective squads during Thursday’s press conferences.

<p>Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani are line to return at St James’ Park. Credit: Getty.</p>

Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani are line to return at St James’ Park. Credit: Getty.

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has said he has almost a full squad to select from for Monday’s game against Newcastle United.

The Red Devils’ trip to St James’ Park was the only Premier League fixture from the next round of matches, not to be scheduled for Boxing Day, although two have subsequently been postponed, with the meeting of the two Uniteds taking place on 27 December.

For Rangnick, his start to life at Old Trafford has been hugely impacted by a Covid-19 outbreak which caused two fixtures - against Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion respectively, to be cancelled - and the German addressed this issue during Thursday’s press conference, and gave an encouraging update on the health and fitness of his squad.

Cavani has been absent for almost two months for United. Credit: Getty.

“Yes, as you know, we had last week, the last training session on Thursday, on that day we had eight outfield players and three goalkeepers and then we closed down the training ground for four days in order to break the chain,” Rangnick told reporters via video link.

“Today was the third day of training this week, we started on Tuesday, we trained yesterday and today.

Advertisement

“Today we had 25 outfield players. Paul Pogba is the only one missing, everyone else was on board. The development in the last week was extremely positive.”

“From what I saw, I can say most of them, if not all of them, might be available, and of course I would have to take some difficult decisions as to who will be in the squad, who will be in the starting XI.”

This will be Ralf Ragnick’s fourth game in charge of Manchester United. Credit: Getty.

Who will start for United?

Rangnick has mainly operated with a 4-2-2-2 shape since being given the interim manager’s role. Regardless of what system he uses for the trip to North-East, David De Gea will almost certainly be in goal.

Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles started in both league games so far under Rangnick, and are likely to retain their places despite Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw being available.

Advertisement

At the heart of defence, Raphael Varane is back in contention to start his first league game since October, with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof the most likely to partner him in Newcastle.

Fred and Scott McTominay will probably start in midfield, while Bruno Fernandes is expected to play in an advanced role. The Portuguese No.18 will likely be joined by Marcus Rashford or Jadon Sancho in the attacking areas.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani could start up front for the first time under Rangnick, with the latter fit again after a recent injury. Alternatively, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial are options, despite the latter’s ongoing transfer saga.

What about Newcastle?

Eddie Howe gave an update on midfielder Jonjo Shelvey during his latest press conference, after the former Liverpool man missed the recent 4-0 loss to Manchester City.

Advertisement

“Jonjo was feeling a tight groin and hamstring. I didn’t want to force him to play [against City], a game that was probably a step too far for him then lose him for a number of weeks, so I think it was the right decision.

“He hasn’t trained with the group yet, we hope to have him back very soon. He’s such an important player for us in many different ways that we need to keep him fit.”

Jonjo Shelvey could miss out again for Newcastle. Credit: Getty.

Howe also had encouraging news on the fitness of Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis, but neither are expected to be fit to face United.

Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth and Paul Dummett are unavailable through injury, while Isaac Hayden cannot play due to suspension.

Starman Allan Saint-Maximin came off the bench against City, but is expected to start for the visit of their Manchester rivals on Monday.