Manchester United have named Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes to their squad for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clashes against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night. Ralf Rangnick’s team returns to European play with a 1-1 aggregate score following the first leg in Madrid last month.
United could have an almost fully fit squad to pick from for the vital second leg at Old Trafford, with Fernandes set to play despite missing Saturday’s 3-2 win over Tottenham due to a positive Covid-19 test.
Earlier this week, the Manchester Evening News reported that Fernandes had returned to United’s Carrington training base. Luke Shaw, who was also absent for Tottenham’s win as well as Manchester City’s 4-1 hammering with Covid, was also at Carrington on Monday morning but was not photographed with the rest of the group when they arrived at the Hyatt hotel.
McTominay missed Spurs’ win due to a calf injury, but he exercised with Fernandes, Shaw, and the rest of the group on Monday morning. Rangnick said there was a “little question mark” over Shaw’s availability, and he appears to be the only senior player who will miss the game.
“As of right now, we have all of the players available for tomorrow, with the exception of Luke Shaw,” Rangnick said at his pre-game press conference on Monday afternoon. “He trained yesterday and today, but we’ll have to wait and see if he’s fully fit for the game. All of the other players have returned to training and are ready to go for tomorrow.
“Fernandes? He was tested yesterday and came back negative, which allowed him to work out today.”
Anthony Elanga scored the crucial goal in the first leg of the tie, but all eyes will be on star striker Cristiano Ronaldo when the two sides meet again on Tuesday night.
The Portuguese striker scored a hat-trick in the weekend triumph over Tottenham, giving him six goals in six Champions League outings this season.
Ronaldo scored hat-tricks against Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Juventus in the Champions League knockout stage, and Rangnick is confident his star player can replicate his match-winning exploits from the weekend.
Rangnick responded when asked if he was concerned about Ronaldo starting again three days after a tough match: “I’m not concerned that he hasn’t recovered completely. He’s always been someone who takes care of himself and his physique, and he understands exactly what to do. So I’m not concerned about it.
“We’ll see whether he can score three more goals. It is quite difficult to score three goals against this team. His whole performance was excellent, and we definitely expect more of the same from him tomorrow night.”
“However, it’s not only about Cristiano; it’s about the team,” Rangnick added. “In Madrid, we saw what we shouldn’t do and how we shouldn’t play in the first half. It’s something we discussed before the game tomorrow. We must understand what it takes, and the rest is all about energy.
“It’s critical, especially against a side like Atletico, who don’t mind the opposing team having the ball and have had less than 50% control of the ball in their last five games. So we’re conscious of it and need to make sure, if at all possible, that we don’t concede, but it’s also critical that we score the first goal ourselves.
“On Saturday, it was clear that we wanted to win that game; our fans played an important role in recognizing how much we wanted to win that game, and the same will be true tomorrow.
“It’s difficult for me to respond to that issue because there was a lot of debate before the game. He demonstrated what kind of professional player he is and what level he can still play at. It’s vital performances like the one he demonstrated for us because he’s still a very essential player for this club and can make a difference.
“It will also be helpful for us if he has a similar performance to the one he had against Tottenham tomorrow.”
United squad players have been confirmed.
De Gea, Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Dalot, Jones, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, Varane, Wan-Bissaka; Fernandes, Fred, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Pogba; Cavani, Elanga, Lingard, Rashford, Ronaldo, Sancho; Cavani, Elanga, Lingard, Rashford, Ronaldo, Sancho