Solskjaer Tempers Expectations Around Sensational Teenagers At Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

BEVERLY HILLS, February 22, (THEWILL) – English Premier League side Manchester United have confirmed that neither of their young guns, Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire, who were both named in Sunday squad that beat Newcastle, will start in their Europa League round-of-32 second leg against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

The 18-year-old Amad and 17-year-old Shoretire were handed their senior team debuts in the wins over Sociedad and Newcastle United last week but will have to wait for their first competitive starts in the Old Trafford side.

As a rotational tactic to keep fatigue from setting in with matches coming hard and fast both in Europe and the EPL, Solskjaer is working out a way to introduce the teenagers into the senior squad in a way that ensures they always have some senior team players around to help them settle in and, at the same time, retain their competitive edge and hunger to outperform.

Presently, the Red Devils are 4-0 up on aggregate against Sociedad and all but through to the last 16 of the Europa League. However, following the clash with the Spanish side at Old Trafford in three days, United will take to the road, heading out to Chelsea for a Sunday, February 28 Round 26 EPL clash at Stamford Bridge. These are the challenges the Norwegian is preparing ahead of.

Solskjaer’s reply to the question of including Amad and Shoretire was unambiguous: “Probably not, Shola and Amad, no. I’m not sure that would be fair on them, they’ll be in the squad.”

The pair of Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani missed the Sociedad and Newcastle matches with muscular injuries while Scott McTominay, who was forced off in the second-half against Sociedad, was sidelined for the victory over Newcastle.

The manager could not confirm whether the trio would be fit for Thursday’s tie but there was no question regarding the absence of French midfielder Paul Pogba whose thigh injury means he will be missing his fifth successive game. Worse off than Pogba is Phil Jones who has not played for United in almost 13 months and is still on the sidelines.

“Donny, Edinson and Scott, maybe available, not sure, I hope [so],” Solskjaer added. “To build momentum, to go on the pitch and feel you’re playing well is important.

“We’ve had a couple of setbacks, West Brom and Sheffield United, two setbacks there but we can look back at them and see why we didn’t get points we deserved, but that’s not what I want to do.

“The boys are really focused, good at recovering mentally and physically, it’s not easy. We played Thursday night and came back here and that’s why we maybe needed 45 minutes to get going.