Manchester United have been boosted by the return of Victor Lindelof for their crunch FA Cup clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford.
The centre-back was absent for the narrow 2-1 win at Fulham, a game that saw the Red Devils surrender the lead, and he has missed five of their last seven games, which has left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his options tested as Eric Bailly has been used in the backline despite suffering injury setbacks himself.
Lindelof reunited with his teammates during first-team training at Carrington ahead of the game at the Theatre of Dreams and Solskjaer is optimistic about his chances.
“Victor will be fine for the weekend, it was just too quick a turnaround we felt with the travel and with his back,” said Solskjaer.
“I wanted to play Eric today (against Fulham) when Victor’s not ready anyway.”
Whilst last week’s Premier League fixture with Fulham was too soon for Lindelof, Solskjaer has suggested that he hopes to have him back for the game against Liverpool, so perhaps we could see him start this afternoon.
Solskjaer quite clearly rates Lindelof very highly as he’s recently claimed that “Victor and Harry, they have been excellent as a pairing,” but his return leaves the Norwegian with a big decision to make at the back.
There’s no denying the fact that this will be one of the toughest decisions that the club legend has had to deal with since taking charge at Old Trafford.
Whilst Harry Maguire is one of the first names on the teamsheet, Bailly and Lindelof are the two battling to bag a spot, but there are still questions over both centre-backs.
The England international has started 19 games in the Premier League this season so far so it’s fair to say that his position is fairly secure.
Indeed, Lindelof will probably come back in to replace Bailly, but that seems incredibly harsh on the Ivorian defender, who has been producing the goods with his performances in recent weeks, earning a high 7.2 rating by SofaScore for his defensive shift against Fulham as a result.
But the 26-year-old has shown that he is prepared to put in the graft to deny opponents, as evidenced by the fact he currently averages 3.9 clearances per game, that the best of all defenders and the highest overall, via WhoScored.
Able to play at both centre-back and right-back, Lindelof’s versatility is an added bonus for the United boss if a player suffers an injury.
We certainly don’t envy Solskjaer the decision, that’s for sure, whilst he will now hope his side can record back-to-back clean sheets against the Reds, this time as they seek to advance to the next stage of the competition.
AND in other news, Manchester United should consider January loan exit for Donny van de Beek…