Januzaj set to make European debut as Manchester United host Real Sociedad
Manager David Moyes looking for an improvement on recent poor home league displays
Adnan Januzaj, centre, training with his Manchester United team-mates at the club’s Aon Training complex in Manchester yesterday. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Adnan Januzaj has been added to the Manchester United squad for the Champions League, with the 18-year-old likely to make his European debut against Real Sociedad at Old Trafford tonight.
The Belgium-born teenager was not eligible for United’s opening two games, but under Uefa’s technical rules has now been in the country long enough for the club to be able to name him as a youth player.
United could have put him in the main squad from the start, but as there is a limit and at the time he had not yet made his domestic league debut, it seemed more sensible to wait until mid-October.
“Adnan is now available, we always expected he would be,” said Untied boss David Moyes.
“The delay was simply down to the way his date of birth and time here works out. He is an exciting young player who is making good progress, someone who is going to play a big part in the future of Manchester United.”
With Danny Welbeck an injury doubt, Januzaj is likely to continue on the left for United, with Antonio Valencia returning on the right behind Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Real Sociedad are bottom of their Champions League group without a point after two games, though Moyes insists they will still be opponents worthy of respect and denies he will be under increased pressure to get through a game deemed winnable.
“Sociedad are coming here because they finished in the top four in Spain, which is a great achievement,” the United manager added.
“I watched quite a lot of their games last season and I have every respect for them. I suppose the expectations are greater now and maybe they would have wanted to start this season a little better, but they had a very good result against Valencia [whom they beat 2-1 at the weekend].
“We knew when we saw the draw we would be in for a difficult game. I’m sure they thought that too, when they saw they had drawn Manchester United.”
Sociedad are coming to the stadium where Southampton shared the points on Saturday and before that West Bromwich Albion got away with all three points, so Moyes is aware that an improvement is necessary.
“We gave the ball away too much in the last game and we have to do better when we are in possession. We have had periods of good play but not continually. It is something we are working on in training.
There have been moments that have been excellent and a couple of inches one way and we might have scored more goals, so we have to hope that turns for us.”
Jonny Evans said the onus was now on United’s players.
“We know we haven’t played well enough, both individually and as a team,” the defender said. “We have to look at ourselves and raise our game. Our performance wasn’t up to scratch against Southampton, we kept giving the ball away quite sloppily.”
Asked about the immediate futures of Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez following comments from the former in the French press and the lack of games being played by the latter, Moyes denied either player is unhappy.
“I think Pat’s comments might have been misinterpreted,” he said. “I haven’t spoken to him about it. I don’t know how Pat is regarded in France but in Manchester we think very highly about him. He is an excellent player, fantastic in the dressing room, and I can only say good things.
“As for Hernandez, now is not the time to go into that. He will play a lot of games before the end of the season.”