Manchester United youngsters Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt to start in Astana

Temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius expected in Kazakhstan; Manchester United's Europa League Group L game to be played under closed roof at Astana Arena

Di'Shon Bernard playing for Manchester United
Image: Di'Shon Bernard will make his senior debut for Manchester United against Astana

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed academy products Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt will start Thursday's Europa League match against Astana.

With United's place in the knockout stages of the competition already secured, Solskjaer has included just four senior players - Lee Grant, Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard - in his squad for the match in Kazakhstan.

Fourteen of United's travelling squad are under the age of 20 and Solskjaer believes the match is the perfect opportunity to introduce the club's youngsters to senior football.

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"If our young players are going to learn to play in these European games, I think this is a great start for them," he said.

"It's the right challenge for these boys now and it's going to be a good game of football. It's hard with the young kids to give them enough games against men, professional games.

"We've got the EFL Trophy and for me this is a great chance for me to see them all together."

Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's travelling squad includes 14 players under the age of 20

Veteran Grant given rare outing

The average age of United's predominantly youthful side is increased by the inclusion of veteran goalkeeper Grant, with Solskjaer confirming the 36-year-old will make only his second appearance for the club since joining from Stoke in 2018.

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"For a manager like me to have Lee to call upon is fantastic, he has a world-class attitude," Solskjaer said.

Lee Grant of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Aon Training Complex on July 04, 2019 in Manchester, England.
Image: Lee Grant is set to make his first start for United against Astana

"He's probably the fittest of the goalkeepers, he always does extra. He's a 36-year-old going on 26. I've got the perfect goalkeeping department."

As for the inclusion of some senior players who have not been first-team regulars this season, Solskjaer added: "We have done great to qualify after four games, so it gives us an opportunity to give game time to the experienced lads who need it.

"Axel, Luke and Jesse, they've not really had too many games and they're coming back from injuries."

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Taylor in line for United debut

Solskjaer also suggested 19-year-old Max Taylor will make his Manchester United debut after recovering from testicular cancer.

Taylor was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2018 and a CT scan later revealed the disease had spread to his abdomen, the lymph nodes in his abdomen and his lungs.

The defender underwent immediate treatment, including surgery and a nine-week course of chemotherapy at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, which proved to be successful.

Manchester United defender Max Taylor pictured in training kit
Image: Max Taylor has recovered from cancer and could also play in Kazakhstan

"It's a fantastic story, to see him coming back," Solskjaer said. "I met Max very early after I got the job and to have seen his journey back to full fitness and the way he's conducted himself, and it's something he'll always have with him.

"He's been through something no one should have to go through, but he's come through the other end. He's an inspiration for all the players.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says 19-year-old midfielder Max Taylor's recovery from cancer and inclusion in the Manchester United squad is a 'fantastic story'

"You can see when he's out on the pitch there's no fear anymore, he's had fear in his life, when you're on the football pitch you should enjoy yourself and I hope we can see him progress in his career.

"It's a chance for us to give him extra motivation as well."

Taylor: Cancer doesn't define me

Taylor insists he is determined to not let cancer define him after being included in Manchester United's first-team squad for the first time.

"It's a part of me and I'm not going to hide from it," Taylor said. "But that's what it is: it's a part of me, it doesn't define me.

"The cancer is something that has happened, but it's not going to be what people remember me for.

"I don't just want to be a footballer; I want to be someone who people look up to in terms of raising money and helping others."

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