Manchester United will begin their defence of the EFL Cup when they host Burton Albion on Wednesday.
After beating Southampton 3-2 to lift the trophy at Wembley last season, the Red Devils will look to maintain their fine form with a win against the Championship outfit.
Here’s a look at the key talking points for Jose Mourinho’s men ahead of the encounter.
When everyone’s fit, Mourinho can almost pick his first choice eleven with his eyes closed, a luxury he didn’t have last season. Of course, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are interchangeable but apart from that, it’s the left-back slot that always carries a question mark.
Ashley Young was the latest to assume the role over the weekend with Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian previously filling in this season without inspiring too much confidence with their displays. With Luke Shaw returning from injury, the spot is his to claim, but he must convince Mourinho.
First and foremost, the 22-year-old must prove his match fitness having not featured in a competitive fixture since April. A return to form would be a huge boost for United who lack the kind of pace and attacking ability Shaw could provide from left-back.
Rashford and Martial have both enjoyed good starts to the season without nailing down starting berths. The two forwards have operated as a tag team on the left flank, with Mourinho using one to relieve the other in the final 15 minutes.
The League Cup however presents the opportunity for both to feature together. Romelu Lukaku will likely be saved for the weekend Premier League fixture, leaving either Rashford or Martial to start up front while the other could begin on the flank.
The prospect of the two young forwards linking up will be an exciting one and could offer Mourinho a glimpse at a different option.
There’s been much talk about Ander Herrera’s lack of playing time. Mourinho has previously shrugged off suggestions of a rift, citing the success of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba’s midfield partnership as the reason for the Spaniard’s fleeting appearances.
However, with the Frenchman injured against Basel last week, it was Marouane Fellaini who got the nod against Everton on Sunday ahead of last season’s club Player of the Year. If Herrera starts on Wednesday, he’ll have to put in a good showing to force himself back into contention.
Meanwhile, Michael Carrick is yet to play at all this season and new signing Victor Lindelof could be set for his first taste of English football. The centre-back arrived from Benfica this summer but has only featured for the Reds in Europe with Mourinho claiming he needs time to adjust.
The Swede will want to take this opportunity to prove his ability to cope with the demands of the English game as he tries to break into the solid looking central defensive partnership between Phil Jones and Eric Bailly.
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