Weah among 'new faces' aiming for three points for PSG vs. Troyes
PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain will take on Troyes at Stade de l'Aube on Saturday with a drastically different starting XI to the one that will run out at Parc des Princes next Tuesday for the Champions League round-of-16 second leg at home to Real Madrid.
The French capital outfit's coach, Unai Emery, has opted to rest the likes of Edinson Cavani, Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore, while Neymar is undergoing surgery in Brazil and Kylian Mbappe, as well as Marquinhos, are continuing their quest to return to fitness ahead of next week.
One member of the 18-man squad to travel to Troyes is U.S youth international Timothy Weah, who is one of three recognised attackers, along with Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler.
Unless Emery fancies changing formation or playing without a recognised striker, it is fair to expect to see the youth academy product for a substantial period of time -- if not the start.
Weah, who turned 18 last week, is the son of legendary former player and newly elected Liberia president George Weah, and this is his first call-up to a professional Parisien squad.
However, the New York-born talent is highly rated by PSG staff at youth level and his potential has been recognised by senior figures, too.
Weah scored two goals for the U.S. under-17 team at the CONCACAF Championship last April and followed that up with a hat trick in the U17 World Cup round of 16 against Paraguay last October.
The teenager has made seven appearances for PSG's under-19 team in the UEFA Youth League this season and found the back of the net against Celtic last September.
Emery said there is a high probability of "new faces" against Troyes, and Weah is most prominent among them.
"First and foremost, we have to think what is best for the team," Emery told journalists during his prematch news conference at Camp des Loges on Friday. "Not all of the players that started on Wednesday will be able to start this weekend.
"Against Troyes will we certainly see some different faces, but the objective will remain the same -- win. The most important thing at the moment is this match.
"It is only once that game is finished that we will think about Real next Tuesday. I hope to have as many players available as possible by then."
Weah, as well as fellow youth-teamer Lorenzo Callegari, will not be auditioning for surprise squad roles against Real, but they will be playing for chances in future domestic encounters or possibly even loan moves next season, and that is what they need at this stage of their fledgling careers.
Just because they are stepping up from the academy, though, does not mean that they will not be expected to perform.
If Weah and Callegari have both been called over several other talented youngsters, it is because they play in a position of need ahead of Troyes, but also because they perhaps are closest to being ready to break through.
It's a common question from American fans as to when Weah might expect to be given a chance and the answer is always the same: on the eve of a big match (such as Real) as part of deep-squad rotation or in a domestic cup game.
Emery has proved that theory correct and now it is up to Weah to take his chance and help PSG to victory in a match that the Spaniard still wants to win.
"Every match is important," Emery said. "We go to Troyes with the aim of extending our lead at the top of the table. This game is a good opportunity for the team to work hard and keep progressing.
"It is important to win and play well. We have played two big matches against Marseille and this weekend, as well as next Tuesday, will be very different games.
"The most important thing is that the players are feeling good. Even when we make changes, the level stays the same."
It is likely to be a youthful starting XI, bar the defence, which will actually be quite strong because of a relative lack of depth. Marquinhos' injury dictates that captain Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe need to start, or at least feature heavily.
Kevin Trapp should start ahead of Alphonse Areola, who is still recovering from a knock, so midfield is perhaps the area where Emery is best stocked for this match.
Thiago Motta, Lassana Diarra, Giovani Lo Celso and Adrien Rabiot could all start, and Callegari is another possibility, so forming a three-man unit from those players should not be too difficult.
A draw or even a loss would not be the end of the world for PSG, but if an unfamiliar starting XI could get it together and pick up all three points against a side battling for their lives near the foot of the table, it would earn those most involved some serious plus points -- especially those, like Weah, from the academy.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.