Jose Mourinho has sprung a surprise by starting Paul Pogba in Manchester United’s first Premier League game of the season against Leicester City – just four days after the midfielder returned from a post-World Cup break.
Pogba played a key role for France as Didier Deschamps’ men triumphed in Russia last month, though his participation in the latter stages of the tournament meant he was late in joining up with his club colleagues.
But, despite the potential rustiness that comes with not playing in any of United’s pre-season matches, Mourinho not only selected Pogba to face Leicester but also named him captain.
Last season was a turbulent one for Pogba as he was dropped several times by Mourinho due to inconsistent performances, but this display of faith from his manager so soon after returning from holiday should provide an early boost at the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign.
Pogba is joined in midfield by Brazil international Fred, who was signed from Shakhtar Donetsk in June, while there is also a place for Andreas Pereira following his eye-catching pre-season displays for United.
Matteo Darmian starts at right-back despite confirming he wants to leave the club, with Mourinho forced to select the defender due to Antonio Valencia’s injury.
With Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku only ready for a place on the bench, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez start in attack.
Rashford’s England team-mate Jamie Vardy, who signed a new four-year contract this week, is on the bench for Leicester.
However, Harry Maguire, linked with a move to United before the transfer window closed on Thursday, starts in defence for the visitors.