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Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves eye qualification

AZ Alkmaar v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League

DEN HAAG, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 3: (L-R) Teun Koopmeiners of AZ Alkmaar, Fred of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League match between AZ Alkmaar v Manchester United at the Cars Jeans Stadium on October 3, 2019 in Den Haag Netherlands (Photo by Ed van de Pol/Soccrates/Getty Images)

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Manchester United midfielder Fred wants to get Europa League knockout round qualification done and dusted on the double.

United hosts Partizan Belgrade at 3 p.m. ET Thursday, and a win would boost them six points clear of their visitors with two matches to play.

Fred said he’s hopeful not just for the place in the next round, but to help more of the squad get playing time.#UEL

“It will also provide more opportunities for players to get a run of games, which is very important as we have a lot of games coming up and will need the entire squad, so to have already achieved qualification is important,” said Fred. “With this run of games coming up, we’ll be gradually putting the pieces together over these fixtures.”

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The Red Devils will bid to achieve that goal without Victor Lindelof, who was an unused sub for the 1-0 win in Serbia.

Meanwhile, Wolves are home to face Slovan Bratislava in a Group K which is anything but straightforward.

The Premier League side is a point back of Braga’s seven, and sits two clear of Thursday’s visitors. Besiktas, stunningly, is without a point through three matches.

Nuno Espirito Santo said the advantage is not enough, and Wolves cannot expect to be safe for the knockout rounds.

“We are always confident, we cannot expect things to happen, we have to make them happen,” he said. “We have to play the game, we are ready to compete and Slovan are a very tough team. Competing well is more important (than thinking about qualifying).”

Arsenal failed in its early bid to earn a place in the Europa League knockout rounds, but an Eintracht Frankfurt defeat of Standard Liege in Belgium could send both the Gunners and Eintracht there.

Other notable UEL Thursday fixtures

Lazio v. Celtic -- 12:55 p.m. ET

Rangers v. Porto -- 3 p.m. ET

Wolfsburg v. Gent -- 3 p.m. ET

Borussia Monchengladbach v. Roma -- 3 p.m. ET

Braga v. Besiktas -- 3 p.m. ET

Follow @NicholasMendola