Cristiano Ronaldo will make his first appearance since returning to Manchester as Newcastle provide the opposition on Saturday
One of the most anticipated games in recent Premier League history takes place at Old Trafford this Saturday, as Newcastle United travel to take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United.
It’s safe to say the vast majority of fans inside the stadium won’t be giving too much thought to Steve Bruce’s team selection, with one of the world’s biggest stars set to make his second Man United debut at some stage.
Cristiano will be back in Manchester United colours for the first time in 12 years, when he swapped United red for Madrid white in a world record transfer. Now he’s back, and Old Trafford will be packed to the rafters to see it. Tickets for the game have been going for thousands of pounds, and given Newcastle’s record of dealing with Ronaldo over the years, some travelling fans won’t have been too keen to put themselves through it again.
The Portuguese superstar has been training for longer than originally anticipated after returning to his club earlier than expected. He picked up a yellow card for taking his shirt off after scoring an injury time winner against Ireland last week, meaning he was suspended for Portugal’s win over Azerbaijan. That’s allowed him almost a full week of training with his new team mates, and given the look of him when he whipped the shirt off, he looks in decent shape to be able to start should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer require him to.
One thing he might have to do to start is displace Mason Greenwood from the starting XI. The teenager has scored in all three league games this season and has barely put a foot wrong, and is fresher than most after not being selected for England duty for the World Cup Qualifiers. A front two where one is old enough to be the other’s father has rarely been so feared.
Jadon Sancho, another decent summer signing, is expected to be fit enough to play some part after pulling out of the England squad before the Poland game, but Solskjaer could be without Fred. The Brazilian FA has bizarrely requested to FIFA that all players who were not allowed to join their nations due to COVID worries are banned for five days, meaning unless a solution is reached sharpish, the midfielder won’t be allowed to play against Newcastle despite doing nothing but train at Carrington for the last 10 days.
As well as weird political situations affected team selection, Solskjaer is without Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Scott McTominay and Dean Henderson, and long-term absentee Phil Jones isn’t fit enough to be involved again.
As for the visitors, Newcastle will likely be the least talked about team in the Premier League this weekend, and have an injury list that make spoiling Ronaldo’s homecoming all the more difficult. Six players are definitely out, and there’s doubts over Isaac Hayden, Paul Dummett and star striker Callum Wilson. The former Bournemouth striker has yet another hamstring issue that has hampered him ever since joining the Magpies, and will be looked at closer to kick-off. Hayden and Dummett are smaller doubts having missed games recently, but may only be fit enough for the bench.
The definite absentees are Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, Ryan Fraser, Jonjo Shelvey, Elliot Anderson and Miguel Almiron. Almiron falls under the same rule as Fred, despite not having travelled away from Newcastle in the past fortnight.
One man that did seem to escape the North East for some late summer sun was Steve Bruce, who was pictured on a beach in Portugal over the international break. The pictures didn’t go down well with fans of a team that have just one point from their first three games and are out of the Carabao Cup, especially as it transpired that he wasn’t there to negotiate a deal for Ronaldo.
Manchester United take on Newcastle United on Saturday, September 11th. Kick-off is at 3pm.