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Solskjaer includes youngster Taylor in Man Utd squad for Astana clash 12 months after cancer treatment

6:16 PM GMT 26/11/2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20
The 19-year-old defender began chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer a year ago, but could now be set for his debut in the Europa League

Manchester United’s 19-year-old defender Max Taylor could be set to make his first-team debut against Astana in the Europa League on Thursday night, one year on from undergoing chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer.

Taylor began the treatment 12 months ago and only returned to training in September after receiving the all-clear from medical staff.

Now, he may well become the latest youngster to graduate from the club’s youth set-up to the first team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after being named in the travelling squad to play in Kazakhstan.

“Obviously, Ole has given quite a few of us the opportunity to travel with the team and, hopefully, a few of us will get a game,” he told United’s official website.

“The position I was in this time last year, I was in my first few weeks where I had chemotherapy, I wouldn’t have thought, a year on, I’d be travelling with the first team.

“It doesn’t matter what the environment is like, just being out there is massive. It’s been a dream since I can remember ever kicking a ball – being a Manchester United first-team player.”

While Taylor may well expect a baptism of fire on the European stage, United are preparing for incredibly harsh conditions in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.

Temperatures are expected to push below -10°C on Thursday, and it had been reported that players have been instructed to avoid going outside whenever possible during the visit.

Solskjaer is expected to name an incredibly youthful side with qualification from Group L already secured, with the majority of his first-team players left to train and recuperate back in Manchester.

That could mean a return to first-team action for 22-year-old defender Axel Tuanzebe, who has been out of action since October with a hip injury.

Solskjaer considered Tuanzebe for Sunday’s clash with Sheffield United, but eventually opted to start Phil Jones in the 3-3 draw.

United will be hoping their first-team players benefit from a rest on Thursday, with a potentially season-defining spell of fixtures coming up in the Premier League.

After this weekend’s clash with Aston Villa, United face Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham and title-chasing Manchester City in the space of four days, before the festive period kicks off with games against Everton and Watford.