Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Manchester United are likely to be without ten players for their trip to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all picked up injuries during Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool.
To go with that, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian and Mason Greenwood are all injured as well.
Solskjaer noted in Tuesday’s press conference ahead of the game that Man United were indeed short in numbers, with none of the injured players on Sunday likely to return.
It has to happen at some point, doesn’t it? Not just a smattering of injuries here and there but a fully fledged, all-at-once cataclysm of injuries striking at the core of your squad.
This happened a lot under Louis van Gaal. Something similar happened under Jose Mourinho ahead of United’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford. It happens.
And it will be consequently quite hard for Solskjaer to recreate the dynamic, fluid attacking football seen during his reign without five members of his established front six. Paul Pogba is the only fully-fit member. Martial, Lingard, Rashford, Herrera and Matic all gone. Perhaps they have been slightly overworked in recent weeks.
Solskjaer bounced back well from that defeat to Paris Saint Germain; how he responds to an injury crisis like this serves as another big test of his managerial credentials.
The injury crisis provides Solskjaer with a serious selection headache ahead of the trip down to South London. He will need to call on some less than experienced options .
Here’s what a starting XI could look like against Roy Hodgson’s side.
The absence of Rashford and Lingard’s running power is a problem for United, whose potency seriously reduces once they lose pace among the front three.
This is why Tahith Chong should be licking his lips. Solskjaer will need a direct, buzzing influence from the right hand side who will cover ground and display a sense of fearlessness. You suspect this role may fall onto the lap of Alexis Sanchez but Chong, to supporters at least, would be the preferred option.
Further back, Scott McTominay and Fred have brilliant chances to show what they’re about.