Ten Hag explains starting Pellistri for Man Utd clash with Real Betis

Man Utd prepare for Real Betis clash

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has opened up on his decision to start Facundo Pellistri in tonight’s Europa League clash with Real Betis. The Uruguay international is yet to be unleashed from the beginning of a match since arriving back in the summer transfer window of 2020. However, he’s now set to be given a chance to prove his worth and stake a claim for a regular starting spot.

Manchester United have named a strong side for the match in Spain, despite hammering the La Liga side 4-1 at Old Trafford last week courtesy of goals from Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst.

David De Gea starts in goal, in front of a back four consisting of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.

In midfield, Casemiro and Fred have been deployed behind Bruno Fernandes.

And, up top, Pellistri plays on a front three consisting of Rashford and Weghorst as United look to seal their passage to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Now, speaking before the game, Ten Hag has opened up on his decision to play Pellistri – who will be making his first start for the club since his arrival nearly three years ago.

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“They [youngsters] know the way of playing,” he told club media.

“They know the rules, the principles of our game. Tactically, we expect from him [Pellistri] today, runs in behind the line, the defending line, because there is a weakness, a weak spot from them.”

Talking to BT Sport, he added: “He deserves it. He’s training very well and training performances show you can deserve a place in the team.”

Two players also starting are Maguire and Malacia.

And, on their selections, Ten Hag added: “We know with them too are excellent players. They have proved already so many times.

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“Also in training, both done very well and we can trust them. They have to do the job today.”

Regarding Pellistri, former United academy star Robbie Savage thinks the Uruguay international now has a glorious chance to make his mark.

“Pellistri did fantastic when he came on last week,” he said, referring to the youngster’s cameo in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

“The manager puts a big impetus on training so he’s obviously trained well and with the injury to Garnacho, he gets a chance and I’m sure he will grab it with both hands.”

One player who won’t be involved this evening is Alejandro Garnacho, however.

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The Argentina international will be out for the foreseeable future after being forced out of the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday.

And Ten Hag, speaking on Wednesday, admitted he was unhappy at having to make do without the 18-year-old.

“I can’t say exactly at this moment, but it will take weeks,” he said, referring to the youngster and a potential return.

“So it’s a serious injury, didn’t expect, but a foul. A serious injury.

“Once again after Christian Eriksen, we have a serious injury after contact.

“It’s not a good decision and it’s difficult to make a diagnosis that quickly but I saw him limping and that’s why I took him off also because it was my last opportunity to sub him and to bring on as well.

“We have the injuries and we have the red cards, so what is the combination?

“We have had some talks with them, yeah, but it’s not about the referee, it’s about us, we have to bring our performance and we have to focus on that.

“Of course it’s difficult, he makes great progress, he was selected by the national team, it was a big moment for him. He’s in a really good development and you don’t want to disturb that process.

“Now we have to step away from it but he will be back for the end of the season. So what he now has to deal is deal with it, deal with the setback and work, invest to get back before the end of the season, because we can win a lot so he has to be back ready as soon as possible.”

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