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Mata models retro United kit

Toe Poke

Nine missing for Man United opener

Manchester United will be without nine players for Louis van Gaal's first competitive game in charge as the Dutchman confirmed he will not rush Robin van Persie back to face Swansea.

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The 31-year-old, who captained Van Gaal's Netherlands team when they finished third in the World Cup, has only had two weeks' training and even though fellow striker Danny Welbeck is on the injured list, Van Persie will not be risked at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"He has to train," the 62-year-old said in a news conference.

Van Gaal has picked fellow forward Wayne Rooney for the captaincy and, asked why why he chose the Englishman, said: "His attitude. More on the pitch and on the training ground, but I have also explained that outside the pitch is important to me and he accepted the responsibility.

"I like him very much, how he trained, how he performed in the game and how he performed to his fellow players."

Rooney missed a penalty in Tuesday's friendly against Valencia and Van Gaal hinted the occasion got to the 28-year-old and urged him to perform as he had done during United's preseason tour.

He added: "I have said to him, 'It was maybe too much for you as a captain,' but let it fly, I say, because in the United States he scored a lot of goals and made a lot of assists. I want to see that Wayne."

Van Gaal said nine players will miss Swansea's visit for various reasons and named six who are sidelined.


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New signing Luke Shaw has been ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury and midfielder Michael Carrick is out until October with an ankle problem.

And forward Welbeck, winger Antonio Valencia, centre-back Jonny Evans and back-up goalkeeper Sam Johnstone are also absent.

With Evans unavailable and United unable to sign any new centre-backs, it means Tyler Blackett is set to make his competitive debut in the back three.

The 20-year-old left wing-back Reece James is another who could appear in a meaningful match for the club for the first time.

However, Van Gaal said right-back Rafael da Silva, who returned from the tour of the United States with a groin injury, is fit again.

Despite the absentees and the lack of signings, Van Gaal said: "My squad is ready. The most important thing is that my squad is ready, not I. I don't play football."


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