Football

Odion Ighalo eager to prove his mettle at Man United, says Andy Cole

Former United star believes Nigerian will come good, and help nurture the young forwards

Andy Cole is convinced that Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo will be desperate to show he is "good enough" to play for the club he adores.

The 30-year-old Nigerian sealed a last-gasp deadline day loan move to United from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua as cover for the injured Marcus Rashford.

Without Rashford, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions, United have only two recognised forwards in Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

The six-month deal for Ighalo is seen as a short-term fix, but ex-United star Cole believes that the former Watford striker will not only bolster the Red Devils' attack but also give a different dimension to it.

"That's what we are hoping for," Cole told Goal.com.

"There are no doubts that he will do just that. He is a big supporter of the football club, he wants to come here and do what he can for Manchester United, play to the best of his ability."

Cole, who scored 121 goals for the Red Devils, added that Ighalo's previous stint in the English Premier League will stand him in good stead.

Ighalo bagged 40 goals in 100 appearances for the Hornets during a three-year spell in the Championship and EPL.

"He has Premier League experience from his time at Watford, he did well there," Cole said.

"He made the move to China, but he's coming back to England and will give everything he's got. Being a Manchester United fan, he will want to prove that he's good enough for the club."

Cole also spoke about how Ighalo could aid the development of Rashford, 22, and Martial, 24, as the Nigerian is a natural in the No. 9 position.

"He could be of more help in Martial's case, as he's been more of a centre forward," the ex-England international said.

"Marcus isn't a natural centre forward. You can learn off experienced players, but not being that kind of natural centre forward yourself, Marcus' case is a little bit different."

IGHALO ISOLATED

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said recently that Ighalo will feature in next Tuesday morning's (Singapore time) EPL clash with Chelsea.

However, Ighalo has yet to set foot in the club's training ground since his move, after being told to stay away due to concerns over the Covid-19 virus outbreak, British media reported yesterday.

The virus has killed over 1,350 people and infected around 60,000 in China after it first emerged in Wuhan late last year.

The Times reported Ighalo has been training at the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester, where he has been building his match fitness with performance coach Wayne Richardson.

The mandated 14-day incubation period will come to an end this weekend and Ighalo is expected to join first-team training then, after missing United's mid-season training camp in Marbella, Spain.

Meanwhile, United captain Harry Maguire, who was part of the squad for the warm-weather training, highlighted areas for improvement ahead of their blockbuster game at Stamford Bridge.

The Red Devils have managed to keep only five clean sheets all season and are eighth in the EPL, six points off fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League place.

"We're keeping a lot more clean sheets than we were at the start of season and we've never really been a team who have conceded a lot of chances," Maguire told the club website.

"We've been poor defending set-plays and we've had a couple of great goals scored against us from outside the box. But we haven't really been having games where David has had to make five or six saves."

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