Ole Gunnar Solskjær insists he will not risk the welfare of his Manchester United players as they prepare for the second of three Premier League fixtures in five days, hinting players such as Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo could come into the reckoning for Tuesday’s meeting with Leicester.
United’s victory at Aston Villa on Sunday, coupled with West Ham’s defeat to Everton, ensured back-to-back top four finishes for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. The Premier League title race is also still technically alive for United, but with Manchester City needing just one more win to secure the league, plus a Europa League final against Villarreal this month to prepare for, Solskjær admits it is unlikely he will remain consistent with his team selection.
“I wish I could have said that we’d go all out in these games, but it’s impossible,” he said. “I know that if I play the same team on Tuesday and Thursday, I run too much a risk of injuring them. We talk about integrity of the league all the time, but don’t blame me when I have to make changes. It’s not safe to keep playing them.”
When asked if that could result in first Premier League starts for Shoretire and Diallo, Solskjær said: “They’re in contention, definitely. They’re training with us every day. Some of the young boys will definitely get an appearance. Whether it’s starting or coming on at the end, I don’t know, because I don’t know what team we’ll pick until I see the players on Tuesday.
“We’ll sit down with the sports scientists and work out what we’ll do. We could have a theoretical team now, but we have to see how they react when they come into the building on Tuesday, and then we can pick a team on Tuesday afternoon.”
Solskjær also reserved praise for Mason Greenwood after he continued his fine recent form on Sunday. Greenwood’s goal against Villa was his fifth in his last five games, and also made him the highest-scoring teenager in United’s history, surpassing Wayne Rooney’s tally of 15.
“Mason is learning all the time, and he’s learning on the job,” Solskjær said. “He’s had to bear a lot of responsibility, but he’s popping up with important goals for us. He’s certainly got something special. The kid just turns a game around in one split second, and his goal on Sunday was excellent. I’m delighted he’s back to his goal-scoring best.”