United’s inner sanctum. Here’s their kit laid out in the changing room ahead of the match. Confirmation that they’ll be playing in their world-famous red shirts. Astana will be in their first-choice yellow.
Hanging on the dressing-room door: the pennant captain Jesse Lingard will hand over to his opposite number, Nenad Eric.
As expected, teenagers Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt make their Manchester United debuts.
The veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant also makes his first United start. Laird (18) is a right-back who likes to bomb forward in the modern style; Bernard (19) plays in the centre of defence; and Levitt (19) is a central midfielder who can pick a pass. The 19-year-old defender Max Taylor, thankfully fit and healthy now after his cancer treatment, is on the bench.
Astana: Eric, Rukavina, Postnikov, Logvinenko, Shomko, Beysebekov, Maewski, Sigurjonsson, Rotariu, Sergei Khizhnichenko, Murtazaev.
Subs: Muzhikov, Pertsukh, Zhakipbayev, Janga, Mokin, Zhalmukan, Prokopenko.
Manchester United: Grant, Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Shaw, Garner, Levitt, Chong, Lingard, Gomes, Greenwood.
Subs: Puigmal, Bughail-Mellor, Kovar, Taylor, Galbraith, Ramazani, Mengi.
Referee: Donatas Rumsas (Lithuania).
Welcome to our coverage of Manchester United’s experimental seminar in Kazakhstan. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are already through to the knockout stage of the Europa League, so this fixture against Astana presents a chance to field some debutants.
Teenagers Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt, and 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant, are expected to make their debuts at some point. There’s also a feelgood story in 19-year-old defender Max Taylor’s inclusion, promoted to the senior squad for the first time since cancer treatment.
So while on the one hand this match doesn’t mean very much, on the other it means everything. The game kicks off at 3.50pm GMT, 9.50pm in the Astana Arena in Nur–Sultan. The roof will be closed, which is just as well because temperatures outside are set to dip below -12 degrees centigrade. It’s on … and we hope your hats, scarves and coats are too.