Thursday, 20 February 2020

Ighalo in contention to start Europa League game against Club Bruges

(lLeft to right) Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, Axel Tuanzebe, Connor Stanley and Odion Ighalo

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says January signing Odion Ighalo is in contention to start the first leg of Manchester United's Europa League last-32 game against Club Bruges on Thursday.

The Nigeria striker, 30, made his debut in the 2-0 win over Chelsea last weekend when he came on as substitute.

"I won't tell the team today but we will have to rotate with all the games coming up," said the United manager.

"He's one that could start, we've not 100% decided yet."

The Norwegian added: "Odion is a different type of striker.

"We have seen him in training. He knows how to play as a centre-forward - he's a fantastic professional and human.

"We need to give him as much game time as possible."
TEAM NEWS

Defender Victor Lindelof could be included in United's starting line-up after recovering from illness to train with the squad on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Swede did not play in Monday's win at Chelsea.

Midfielder Scott McTominay, who has not played since the Boxing Day win over Newcastle having suffered knee ligament damage in the game, also trained but is not part of the squad.

The diagnosis on striker Marcus Rashford and midfielder Paul Pogba was not as positive for United fans.

When asked whether Pogba, who has been dealing with a recurring ankle problem, would return to training with the squad, Solskjaer said: "He's not anywhere near that yet."

And on England striker Rashford, who suffered a stress fracture in his back in January, Solskjaer said the outlook was worse.

"I would hope he's playing this season - it will just be touch and go towards the end," added the Norwegian.

"I was hoping he would recover quicker than what it looks like he's going to be out for. Another few months definitely.

"If he's not fit enough he won't go [to the Euros]."
'It's not me against United'

Club Bruges are expected to win their 16th Belgian title having established a nine-point lead, with former Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet having played a major role in their success this season.

The 31-year-old Belgian is likely to be reminded of his Reds connection during the two-legged tie. He said: "It's not me against Manchester United or me playing against an English team.

"It's Club Brugge against Manchester United and we have to play our game as a team and as a club to try and give us the best platform to play the second leg at Old Trafford.

"I've said it before, Manchester United are a really good team. They're playing well. It's going to be a fixture; it's going to be tough challenge.

"And for our boys, it's a new challenge to face against an English team at the European stage so we look forward to that in the first place."
MATCH FACTS
Club Brugge are winless in their last 10 meetings with English sides in all competitions (D2 L8) since a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the 1994-95 Cup Winner's Cup quarter-final.
United and Brugge have faced each other twice before, with the Red Devils winning 3-1 away and 4-0 at home in 2015-16 Champions League qualifying.
Brugge were eliminated from the Europa League at this stage last season, last progressing from a knockout tie in the competition in 2014-15 (last 16 v Besiktas).
United are unbeaten in their last 10 Europa League knockout stage games (W6 D4), since a 2-0 loss at Liverpool in March 2016. Indeed, they won the competition the last time they were in it in 2016-17.
United have fielded 32 different players in the Europa League this season, more than any other side. They've also had 11 different teenage players play for them in the competition this season, more than double that of any other side.




https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/51533294

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