Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of the matchday squad to face Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round on Monday night.
Ronaldo had previously not been seen among players reporting to the team’s pre-match hotel several hours before the game. Harry Maguire and Phil Jones were also missing and the centre-back pair have not made the cut to face Villa either.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick had also asserted that he would name the ‘best possible team’ for the cup tie, rather than make mass changes to the XI that started against a week ago. But the German confirmed before kick-off that Ronaldo was suffering from a minor ‘muscle problem’.
36-year-old Ronaldo, who was rested against Young Boys in the Champions League and West Ham in the Carabao Cup, has already clocked up 22 appearances in all competitions since his return to the club. His 14 goals account for over a third of the team’s entire tally of 41.
Ronaldo had captained United in the absence of both Maguire and vice skipper Bruno Fernandes in the Premier League defeat to Wolves. Fernandes’ return to the side on Monday sees the armband returned to him, with Maguire still sidelined as mentioned.
Rangnick was true to his word about naming a strong side. David de Gea starts in goal, with Victor Lindelof returning to the team alongside Raphael Varane. There are also starts for Marcus Rasford, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani.
There are places for Amad Diallo, who is set to join Birmingham on loan, and Anthony Elanga among the substitutes, as well as Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek.