Football

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains Dan James selection and confirms Scott McTominay injury


The Welsh winger was handed his first start of 2021 against Newcastle (Picture: Getty Images)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Daniel James earned his first Premier League start of the year for Manchester United thanks to his performance against Real Sociedad while Scott McTominay could not shake off his injury niggle.

The United boss made five changes to the side which won 4-0 in the Europa League on Thursday with James keeping his place for the visit of Newcastle after netting against the Spanish side.

Elsewhere, Nemanja Matic was picked in midfield to replace McTominay, who was an injury doubt ahead of the game after coming off against Sociedad.

James scored the fourth goal of United’s big win over Sociedad (Picture: Getty Images)

David de Gea replaced Dean Henderson between the sticks, while Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial came in for Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood respectively.

James has not started a Premier League match in 2021, last making the team sheet for a league game on Boxing Day, but Solskjaer was full of praise for the Welsh winger and feels he earned a chance to take on Newcastle from the start.

‘I thought his performance was excellent [against Sociedad],’ Solskjaer told MUTV when asked why James retained his place in the side.

‘He gives us energy in the pressing, he gives us runs in behind, keeps the width for us. We felt he deserved another start.’

Solskjaer also confirmed that McTominay had been ruled out of the game through injury, adding to a growing list of sidelined midfielders for the Red Devils, but the Norwegian is confident Fred and Matic – who have not played together too much this season – can fill in.

McTominay was forced off against Sociedad and remains sidelined (Picture: Getty)

‘The two of them [Fred and Matic] have played together before, but Paul [Pogba], Donny [van de Beek] and Scott are all injured so I’m glad I’ve got Fred and Nemanja.’

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce, meanwhile, made just one change from the side that lost to Chelsea last Monday with Joelinton replacing Dwight Gayle up front.

United lost second spot earlier in the day to Leicester City, though a win over the Magpies would see them move back up thanks to their superior goal difference – though Manchester City remain 10 points clear at the top.


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