Football

Maguire return a timely boost for Man United

EPL
MANCHESTER UNITED NORWICH
CITY

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful Harry Maguire will be fit to face Norwich City on Saturday (Jan 11), allaying fears that the world’s most expensive defender was set for a spell on the sidelines.

Maguire was badly missed as United crumbled 3-1 to Manchester City in a League Cup semi-final, first leg defeat on Tuesday, but his hip injury is not as bad as first feared.

The man signed for £80 million (S$141m) from Leicester City in August has not had the transformative impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence that United hoped for, but the importance of his presence was laid bare as City cut open a centre-back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones with ease in midweek.

“Harry has a chance for tomorrow,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. “It is only a minor thing. He will go through training and see how he reacts.”

Maguire has played every minute of United’s league campaign so far and has even worn the armband on multiple occasions with club captain Ashley Young reduced to a peripheral role since the arrival of right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

“It’s not a surprise because he’s a warrior and he wants to play,” added Solskjaer as Maguire aims to shrug off the problem he picked up in a 0-0 draw at Wolves in the FA Cup third round last weekend.

“If it’s only a minor problem, he will put himself up to play and that’s what he did against Wolves.

“At half-time, he said he was feeling a little discomfort but he was adamant he was going to be fine.

“He was close to playing against City, just not quite good enough, but he has a chance now.” 

Focused

Maguire could soon succeed Young as club captain with the 34-year-old reportedly close to agreeing a deal with Inter Milan.

Young is out of contract this summer and free to negotiate with the Italian giants, who could even bring a move forward to this month if a deal with United can be agreed.

“Ashley is our player, our captain, but there has been loads of speculation and we just have to handle it,” said Solskjaer.

“He has been very professional and focused and that isn’t going to change.

“It will be a discussion between me and Ashley if something comes up, but we haven’t got too many players fit and ready so we need the ones we have.

“He has been a very good player for this club and a good captain this season and we will see where we are in February and June with him.”

United have not won any of their three matches in 2020 as the City defeat came on the back of losing at Arsenal in the league and the stalemate at Wolves.

And Solskjaer is looking for a response against bottom-of-the-table Norwich, who have won just once on the road all season.

“Of course, you are disappointed when you lose to your local rivals. You can feel sorry for yourself or knuckle down for the next one,” added the Norwegian.

“The worst trait a footballer can have is feeling sorry for himself. If you have that, you’re not in the right place.

“But the boys have been focused and I am sure we will get a reaction.” – AFP

Harry MaguireManchester UnitedNorwich City