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Who on earth is going to start for Manchester United vs. Manchester City?

With a raging injury crisis and the Europa League coming up, Jose Mourinho's got some difficult decisions to make.

Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Who'd be a football manager?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: crocked. Marcos Rojo: likewise. Paul Pogba: last seen limping off against Burnley. Eric Bailly: likewise. Ander Herrera: fitness being monitored. And the Europa League? Imminent. Imminent and important, what with the reward of a massive trophy and a Champions League spot.

So yes, there's a Manchester derby coming up on Thursday. And yes, these games are big and the top four is closer than it seemed a few months ago. But Jose Mourinho has made it clear: his focus is on the trophy that United can win, not the fourth place that United might scrape.

What does this mean for Thursday's line-up? We've looked over the smoking wreckage of United's squad, and this is what we think we're in for ...

Sergio Romero

Simple priorities dictate this choice. If the Europa League is the priority, then the back-up keeper plays in the league. Sorry, Sergio. Stay comfy, David.

Though while we're on the subject, and in as much as this is possible for a backup keeper, Sergio Romero is having a very good season. Like quite a few other of United's squad members, he's responded to Mourinho's arrival positively, and the sight of his name on the teamsheet is no longer a cause for a furrowed brow. Except maybe this Thursday.

Ashley Young (c)

Manchester United's most statistically successful captain — probably, we haven't actually checked — will lead the team from right back. Again, this is a question of priorities. Antonio Valencia is, as everybody knows, the finest right back in the world, which means he absolutely cannot be permitted anywhere near the vicious, flying studs of Sergio Aguero. There's a Europa League to win.

Daley Blind

Well, everybody else is injured …

Axel Tuanzebe

… and since Eric Bailly was limping at the end of the game against Burnley, there are no risks to be taken. TBB has absolutely no worries about Tuanzebe making his debut in a game of this magnitude, incidentally. He seems a sensible kid.

Matteo Darmian and/or Luke Shaw

Whichever one Mourinho thinks is less good than the other one, basically. It's so hard to keep up.

Marouane Fellaini

Inevitably. For what it's worth, tBB reckons Fellaini actually had pretty productive games against both Chelsea and Burnley. He still can't really kick the ball, but his chest control is a dream and he's becoming more diligent and disciplined in his disruptive clanking.

Rui Faria

Since Ander Herrera's fitness is being monitored, United might as well play his dad.

The Yanmar EF514MU "Manchester United" tractor

"51hp output." "High fuel efficiency and power output in a variety of operation conditions." "Nine different speed ranges." "Forward and reverse operation." "Enhanced maneuverability." A "1.35 ton hydraulic hitch". "Premium red" on the body, "premium gold" on the wheels. That's a box-to-box midfielder if ever we heard of one.

Ashley Young, again

Well, he's a utility player, isn't he? And utility players muck in wherever needed. He won't be captain here, though. Just when he's at right back. Don't want him getting distracted.

Fred the Red

In the absence of one oversized, lumbering icon, beloved of millions, in steps another. Fred the Red may not have quite the goalscoring reputation of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but he's big, he puts himself about nicely, and he must be a nightmare for defenders. An actual nightmare, that is.

"God, I had the worst dream last night. I was marking this massive devil. An actual devil. Seven feet tall, with a tail and everything. And he wouldn't stop smiling."

Wayne Rooney

In the absence of one oversized, lumbering icon, beloved of millions, in steps … no, hang on, that's not quite right. Anyway, it's clear from his goal against Burnley — arrive, swipe, nutmeg, deflection, and in — that the gods have decided to favour Rooney in his final games at United. And it'll be nice for him and Vincent Kompany to have one last tussle, before both fade out of sight and mind, and disappear into the mists of forgetting. Or "America", as some people call it.


Raimond van ger Gouw; Joel Glazer; Timothy Fosu-Mensah; Clayton Blackmore; "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols; Sir Bobby Charlton; a neatly folded GRIEZMANN 7 shirt