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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will be boosted by the return of Brazilian midfielder Casemiro for the EFL Cup semi-final first leg clash against Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Nottingham Forest and Manchester United will lock horns in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final at the City Ground tomorrow night.

Forest edged past Wolves on penalties to make the final four while United cruised past Charlton Athletic.

United are the favourites to put one foot in the final even though they have failed to win their last two Premier League matches. Erik Ten Hag’s side were held by Crystal Palace and then lost against league-leaders Arsenal.

Fourth spot

The Red Devils are up in fourth spot in the table however the coach will be disappointed that his side missed the chance to close the gap on the Gunners to three points. They find themselves 11 adrift while Forest have a healthy lead above the drop zone following two wins and two draws in their last four matches.

Both sides will be going for the win to give them the advantage in the second leg at Old Trafford on February 1 for the chance to meet Newcastle or Southampton at Wembley in the final later next month.

Forest have gotten past Grimsby Town, Tottenham, Blackburn and Wolves to make the semis while United beat Burnley, Aston Villa and Charlton to progress to the final four.

Good form

Steve Cooper’s side are in good form and they will be aiming to reach the EFL Cup final for the first time since 1992. They have played six EFL Cup semi-final ties and progressed from all six and so Ten Hag will not be taking them lightly. He will welcome Casemiro back to the team after the Brazilian served a one match suspension while Anthony Martial and Diogo Dalot could return following injuries. But Axel Tuanzebe and Donny van de Beek remain sidelined and although Jadon Sancho is now back in training he may not be risked.

Wayne Hennessey will continue in goal for Forest for the injured Dean Henderson but the home side will be without Taiwo Awoniyi, Cheikhou Kouyate and Giulian Biancone while winter arrival Chris Wood is cup-tied. Gustavo Scarpa could return in midfield while Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson are expected to start up front.

Forest are beginning to show that they can compete at the top level but United should come away with a first-leg advantage.