Solskjaer not downbeat as injuries provide chances for Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez

Press Association Sport 12:14 16/02/2019
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Lingard and Martial celebrate the Frenchman's game-clinching third goal at the Emirates in the FA Cup in January.

Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are set to be sidelined for Manchester United‘s crunch fixtures against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday and Liverpool in the Premier League next weekend.

Lingard was withdrawn shortly before the interval against Paris Saint-Germain in midweek because of a hamstring injury, while Martial did not reappear for the second half due to a groin problem.

In the pair’s absence, the Ligue 1 champions scored twice to secure a 2-0 win in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 encounter that handed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his first defeat as United’s interim manager.

The Norwegian now expects Lingard and Martial to be sidelined until the start of March as he said: “I think they’ll be out for two to three weeks.”

Solskjaer was not too downcast as he spoke to preview his side’s fifth-round clash at Stamford Bridge, insisting the injuries present opportunities for the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Solskjaer is without Martial for Chelsea and Liverpool.

Solskjaer is without Martial for Chelsea and Liverpool.

Both high-profile forwards have slipped down the pecking order under Solskjaer, who hopes teenage attackers Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also advance their cases for first-team roles in the upcoming weeks.

Solskjaer said: “It’s a chance for anyone who plays. If it’s Alexis or Romelu who starts, or if it’s Chongy or Angel.

“Anthony and Jesse have done very well for us, they’re vital in the attacking part with their attributes and their pace. But then again with Rom and Alexis, they’ve got different skill sets so they will be able to show what they can do.”

Solskjaer also lamented an injury to 17-year-old academy player Mason Greenwood.

He added: “You’re looking at young players. We’re thinking ‘OK Mason Greenwood, now’s your time to step in’ and he’s injured, unfortunately.

“He’s out for a couple of weeks as well. That’s just the way the luck goes. Mason will get his chance later on.”

Solskjaer had overseen 10 wins and a draw in his first 11 matches as caretaker, significantly advancing his hopes of becoming the permanent successor to Jose Mourinho.

He has urged his side to remain calm in the wake of his first defeat ahead of a crucial few days in which they play two of their biggest rivals.

Solskjaer said: “I hate losing games, it seems like the boys hate losing games, and they’ve been down, of course.

“There’s no point dwelling on it because there are big games against good teams coming up. We need to dust ourselves down and get going again on Monday.

“You’ve got to bounce back at this club. You don’t panic because you’ve lost a game, you don’t change everything because it doesn’t change the mindset at all.

“We need to keep working on the way we want to play football. The way we approach the games we’ll always be in an attacking and positive mind.

“We want to go down to Chelsea, we want to have Liverpool here, we still want to impose ourselves on those games.”

Solskjaer also paid tribute to Eric Harrison, the former youth team boss at United and mentor to the much-vaunted ‘Class of ’92’ who died at the age of 81 on Thursday.

He added: “Eric’s been an influential part of this club. With his passion for the club and how we played football he was a fantastic man.

“I never had him as a coach myself but I spoke to Eric many, many times. He was so passionate. It was a sad day but he’ll always be remembered with the Class of ’92 and what he’s done for them.”

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