Fernandes is one of three players to have started all three United games since the restart and the other two are defensemen. His 120-minute slog in Norwich was not ideal before a trek on Tuesday in Brighton and serious attention must be paid to his conditioning.
However, Fernandes is deemed so indispensable by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he is held for the national and European cup matches that the prospect of him starting a Premier League match on the bench could be anathema. Especially after Solskjaer encountered the pitfalls of resting too many big hitters from the start in Norwich.
Since the turn of the century, there have only been five seasons where two United players have crossed the 20 goal mark; 2001-02 (Ruud van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer), 2002-03 (Van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes), 2006-07 (Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney), 2008-09 (Ronaldo and Rooney) and 2010-11 (Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez).
Barring a sudden collapse, Rashford and Martial are destined to become the sixth pair, each arriving in their first season of 20 goals. Reaching this milestone in Brighton would be doubly satisfying after Mourinho questioned their performance at Amex in 2018.
Who is called back?
It is easy for punters to conjecture the XI of United in Brighton. As long as they’re all in shape, David de Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are bound to return.
As the Wolves overtook United over the weekend, the Brighton match became so important that Fernandes may have to start.
Ruthless decisions to be made?
Of the three players hooked in the 63rd minute at Norwich, chances are two won’t even fly to Brighton. Diogo Dalot was an incongruous inclusion at Carrow Road and Jesse Lingard played as if he was still a rookie when he turns 28 in November. He has been playing like this for too long.
Juan Mata is still a worthy inclusion of the team of the day, but Brandon Williams got the head start over Dalot in the last games of the league and it is a draw between Lingard and Andreas Pereira for the 20th man.
Will United avoid a horror trilogy?
Brighton was the scene of some of the Prime Minister Jose Mourinho’s most despicable performances; Martial and Rashford fail in the absence of Romelu Lukaku, the triplet of mistakes by Eric Bailly, Pereira’s career as a late midfielder and the justification for Mourinho’s insistence on a new central half.
Brighton has won both home games against United in the elite and has shown resilience to overcome Arsenal after a losing position earlier this month.