Six things spotted in Manchester United training ahead of Granada Europa League fixture

Brandon Williams and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United react during a first team training session  (Image: Ash Donelon/Manchester United ...

Brandon Williams and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United react during a first team training session
Manchester United will face La Liga side Granada for the first time on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

Manchester United have held their final training session in England ahead of their trip to Spain to face Granada.

With the Europa League being United's last realistic chance for silverware this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will no doubt be hoping for a strong start in the quarter-final tie in Thursday's first leg.

As is customary before European matches, United allowed press access to the opening 15 minutes of their last training session at Carrington ahead of flying out on Wednesday.

Here are six things we spotted in the session...

Injury boosts

United have been buoyed by the returns of Juan Mata and Alex Telles from injury, with both looking ready to get back on the pitch in training.

Mata hasn't played since a two-minute cameo against Newcastle on February 21 due to an unspecified injury but is back to provide reinforcements in attack with Anthony Martial sidelined.

Meanwhile, Telles wasn't involved in the weekend's victory over Brighton due to illness but has now recovered and will be hoping for a rare start in Thursday's game.

With a big match against Tottenham coming up on Sunday, Solskjaer will undoubtedly be grateful that he will have more options to rotate his squad against Granada.

Not lost it

As the players warmed up by playing a series of 'rondos', United technical director Darren Fletcher took the opportunity to join in.

The former midfielder clearly hasn't lost his touch and looked more than at home on the ball as he played alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani.

Fletched even pulled off a lovely piece of skill as he curved a pass with the outside of his boot around the advancing Fred.

Darren Fletcher bends the ball around Fred 

Van de Beek pushing for a start?

Following his crucial cameo against Brighton - where, despite not having a touch of the ball, his movement helped United find a late winner - Van de Beek may be hoping to start against Granada.

The Dutchman has had a difficult start to life at Old Trafford with opportunities at a premium but he has certainly earned another chance, especially against a team who are 9th in La Liga.

Van de Beek showed good intensity in training as he closed down his opponents in the rondo games and looked sharp on the ball. If he gets to start on Thursday it's an opportunity he must seize with both hands.

Williams vs Rashford

As the session continued the players were tasked with competing in a series of games against a partner to see who could pick a bib off the floor up the quickest.

Marcus Rashford came up against Brandon Williams and faced an onslaught as the left-back quickly raced into the lead. As Williams went four ahead he took joy in his dominance, lifting his arms aloft in celebration and boasting '4-0!', while all Rashford could do was claim his opponent was 'cheating.'

On the fifth match-up Rashford finally managed to snatch the bib first. The striker hobbled off towards the end against Brighton but looked as fit as a fiddle throughout the session, which is a relief to see.

Elanga fitting in

Young forward Anthony Elanga will be involved in first-team matchday squad on Thursday after being called up to the seniors by Solskjaer.

The 18-year-old has impressed in the youth ranks at the club, winning the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award last season, and has recovered from a collarbone injury to finally gain his promotion.

Elanga looked at home amongst the United stars in training ahead of his game and fans may be hoping to see yet another academy graduate make his debut on Thursday.

Anthony Elanga enjoying training 

All smiles ahead of the big game

Granada may not seem like imposing opposition but there is pressure on United to come away from Spain with a positive result, with all their hopes of lifting a trophy this season firmly pinned on success in the competition.

However, the players and staff clearly weren't feeling the pressure ahead of the match as there was a jovial and happy atmosphere in training.

The players were all smiling and joking as they competed in rondos and races, so hopefully the relaxed atmosphere will result in a positive win against Granada.



 

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