Who is Donald Love: Manchester United youngster to make first start in Europa League tie against Midtjylland

Love is set to start at right-back against Midtjylland after Matteo Darmian was ruled out with a shoulder injury

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The Independent Football

Donald Love is set to make his first start for Manchester United in the Europa League last-32 first leg clash with FC Midtjylland on Thursday as manager Louis van Gaal attempts to cope with an extensive injury crisis.

The news that captain Wayne Rooney will miss up to two months left Van Gaal with a shortage of attacking options on Wednesday, but the Dutchman also has serious concerns in defence that will likely see him turn to 21-year-old Love for the match in Denmark.

United fans were left asking who Love was when he was included on the substitutes’ bench for last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Sunderland, but they got a first glimpse of him immediately after injury struck right-back Matteo Darmian in the 37th minute.

With the Italy international unavailable for the Europa League tie, Love has travelled with the squad and Van Gaal hinted that he will look to include the young academy products among his ranks in the starting line-up as he “believes” they have the quality to meet the grade in Europe.

“They have played in the league, FA Cup and Europe, and that helps you develop more than playing for the reserves. We have young players sitting on the bench and my belief is they can all play.

“For example, tomorrow’s right-back [Love] has only played one game for us.”

Love began the season in the United academy, but was sent on loan to League One side Wigan Athletic in October before being recalled at the start of the January transfer window. While with the Latics, Love made eight appearances, but he has just one Premier League outing to his name and will be thrown in at the deep end when he starts against Midtjylland on Thursday.

Love was born in Rochdale and joined United’s academy at the tender age of eight, but he has represented Scotland through his youth career and has made appearances for their under-17s, under-19s and under-21s.

Manchester United right-back Donald Love

Love will be joined in the squad by fellow youth products James Weir and Joe Riley, with both set to make their club debuts should they play any part in the match after travelling with the rest of the first-team squad.

Weir was included on the substitutes’ bench for the Sunderland match but failed to come on, while Riley has been included as cover at left-back after Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was struck down with illness.