Bruno Fernandes will captain Manchester United for the first time as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s “depleted” side kick off their Champions League campaign without Harry Maguire, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood.
After a year away from European football’s top table, the Red Devils will step out in the competition for the first time since bowing out in the quarter-finals against Barcelona in April 2019.
Solskjaer’s side made it that far thanks to a jaw-dropping comeback at PSG in the previous round, with United digging deep to secure a remarkable 3-1 triumph in the French capital without a string of first-team players.
The 1999 Champions League final hero will again be without a number of players when they return to the Parc des Prices on Tuesday, with Maguire, Cavani and Greenwood particularly eye-catching absentees.
Yeah (those three are not with us) and we’ve lost a couple so that’s (Eric) Bailly didn’t travel or (Jesse) Lingard didn’t travel,” Solskjaer said.
“We’re a little bit depleted but we have got more than enough players.
“We hope the players won’t be away for too long. Edinson needs a few more days training before maybe we can think about the weekend.
“Hopefully Harry, Eric and Mason as well but we’re not sure about that.”
New boy Cavani is PSG’s all-time top scorer but his absence is understandable given he only trained with new team-mates for the first time on Sunday following a period of quarantine.
Maguire said he was “disappointed” to be missing the Group H opener and “working hard to get back fit ASAP” – with the captain’s absence meaning influential January arrival Fernandes will wear the armband instead.
“We hope Harry will be fit for the weekend (against Chelsea in the Premier League),” Solskjaer said.
“We’re not sure but we hope so and the captain sits next to me – Bruno will captain the team (on Tuesday).”
That news came as a surprise to Fernandes, who raised his eyebrows and smiled when Solskjaer announced the news in the pre-match press conference.
“I was not expecting this,” the Portugal midfielder said. “I know the same time as you.
“For me, it’s an honour that I will be captain first of all for my team-mates and of course being captain of Manchester United is an important achievement for me.
“But I think the captain is everyone – everyone needs to help, everyone needs to be a leader in their way.