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Tom Thorpe in line for full Manchester United debut against West Brom

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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal finally has a string of first-team options approaching full fitness ahead of Monday night's trip to the Hawthorns, the question is how many are ready for an instant return to his starting XI.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and even Ander Herrera have taken part in training ahead of United's bid to earn a third successive Premier League victory, which gives Van Gaal some genuine selection dilemmas.

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The Red Devils are definitely without the suspended Wayne Rooney against in-form West Bromwich Albion, but take that ban out of the equation and just Paddy McNair, Jonny Evans,  Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard are definitely out of action for the next few weeks.

Central defence is likely Van Gaal's biggest cause for concern, does he give youngster Tom Thorpe a chance to follow McNair's example and thrive under pressure to take something of a gamble on the recovering Jones or Smalling?

Mix of youth and experience the target

Van Gaal has already proved this season he's not afraid to give youngsters a baptism of fire at the highest level, so don't be surprised if under-21 captain Thorpe is handed the chance to partner Marcos Rojo in a full Premier League debut.

That would give more senior figures the chance to recover ahead of Sunday's clash with runaway leaders Chelsea.

Luke Shaw and Rafael da Silva are likely to continue at full-back, while Darren Fletcher looks a strong candidate to play alongside Daley Blind in central midfield to add balance and experience in a key area.

Chelsea test has to factor into thinking

Herrera could probably play if called upon, but would need to wear a protective brace to help his hurt ribs manage full contact and will likely be left out in favour of preparing to return against the Blues.

Further forward Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie will all expect to keep their places in Van Gaal's starting line-up, it's just a question of bringing out their respective strengths in the right system.

Expect Falcao to drift at times and Di Maria to start out left but be allowed the freedom to roam and drive United forward, with Mata staying central as the man charged with supplying ammunition for a star-studded strikeforce all looking to send United fourth in the table.

West Brom predicted XI: Foster, Pocognoli, Lescott, Dawson, Gamboa, Morrison, Gardner, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Sessegnon, Berahino

Man United predicted XI: De Gea, Rafael, Thorpe, Rojo, Shaw, Blind, Fletcher, Di Maria, Mata, Van Persie, Falcao

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Topics:
Manchester United
Premier League
Louis van Gaal
Football

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