Jesse Lingard might have been entering Manchester United’s League Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough as a derby-day hero.
The 22-year-old came on for only his fourth senior United appearance during Sunday’s 0-0 Premier League draw against rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford and was closest to breaking the deadlock, volleying Anthony Martial’s lofted pass against the crossbar with five minutes remaining.
Lingard started United’s 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League last week and team-mate Phil Jones was impressive with the midfielder’s contribution against City.
“It looked like it [Lingard’s effort] was in but that is the luck you need sometimes,” Jones told United’s official website.
“Maybe it could have hit the bar, it could have come down and there could have been somebody there to tap it in.
“But I thought he did great when he came on and it would have been a contender for goal of the season if it had gone in.”
Marcos Rojo could be in line for further action when Middlesbrough visit the north west – the Argentina international having returned, like Jones, from fitness problems to start the past three matches for Louis van Gaal’s team.
“I thought Marcos was terrific [in the derby],” Jones added. “His passing was great, he was a threat going forward and he was solid defensively as well. It was a top performance.”
United may find themselves tangling with another Manchester City man on Wednesday night in the form of Bruno Zucuilni – the Argentine midfielder having completed a loan switch from the Etihad Stadium to Teeside on Monday.
The 22-year-old, who spent time on loan with Valencia and Cordoba in La Liga last season, offers a welcome boost to Boro boss Aitor Karanka’s midfield options.
Adam Forshaw sat out the 3-1 weekend win at Wolves with a minor injury, while Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton are both a solitary booking away from triggering a suspension.
Stewart Downing and Albert Adomah are likely to come into Karanka’s thoughts for starting places at Old Trafford after they came off the bench in Middlesbrough’s comeback at Molineux.
Former England winger Downing curled home a wonderful free-kick to complete the scoring, although he is still nursing a rib injury.
“I took a whack in the ribs at Cardiff; I’m not sure if there is a break there or not, but I’m told there is nothing you can do so I just decided to get on with it,” Downing told Boro’s official website.
“Sod’s law, I took a whack soon after I came on against Wolves, but I’m glad to have played my part. It was the perfect time to score.”
The teams last met in the League Cup in September 2008, with United running out 3-1 home winners thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Nani.