Manchester United youngster Max Taylor is on the bench against Astana this afternoon and could make his first team bow.
The 19-year-old defender made his return to competitive football last month with the Under-23 squad after successfully undergoing cancer treatment.
Taylor, a centre-back from Manchester, admitted he feared he would die following the shock diagnosis in June 2018, which came only five months after he had signed his first professional contract.
Speaking to the BBC, he recalled the horrible moment he found out he had cancer alongside his mum, Stella, and stepfather, Matthew.
“I’d been checking and felt a lump,” he said. “The doctor ran a scan and thought it was a cyst, which is quite common in people my age. But when he repeated the scan, it had got bigger.
“He sent me to a specialist, who sent me for another scan. That’s when I got told inside the area of infection next to the cyst was a tumour, most likely a form of testicular cancer.
“It was surreal. We just looked at each other thinking: ‘Has he really just said that? That it is cancer?’
“The specialist said the cells inside the testicle would have to be taken off. He said removing the testicle was the first thing to happen but I would also need a CT scan to check the rest of my body and I might need chemotherapy.
“My mum broke down straight away. I was so taken aback I didn’t cry. I got out of the clinic and thought: ‘Oh my God.’ You hear the word cancer. My mind was running 100mph. ‘What will happen? What’s next? Will I play football again? Will I be alive?’ It repeated in my head, over and over.”
But having had successful chemotherapy treatment, Taylor returned to training in September and made his first appearance for the Under-23s a month later.
Now he could get his first run out for the senior team, having been named among the substitutes in a youthful squad against Astana – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT 2.
Solskjaer this week praised the courage and determination shown by Taylor, saying: “It’s a fantastic story, to see him coming back.
“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, 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, and he’s an inspiration to others.
“There’s no fear on the pitch, he’s had fear in his life. When you’re on the football pitch you should have no fear and it’s a chance to give him extra motivation as well.”
United have already qualified for the Europa League knockout stages, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rested numerous key players in Astana.
Nine of the XI have come through United’s academy, as have all seven substitutes.
Man Utd XI: Grant, Laird, Tuanzebe, Bernard, Shaw, Garner, Levitt, Chong, Lingard, Gomes, Greenwood. Subs: Puigmal, Bughail-Mellor, Kovar, Taylor, Galbraith, Ramazani, Mengi.