Odion Ighalo is in line to make his Manchester United debut as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed he will be in the squad for their huge clash at Chelsea on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Ighalo, 30, joined United on transfer deadline day in January on a loan deal until the end of the season and Solskjaer wants the Nigerian striker to provide an extra striking option with Marcus Rashford out injured with a fractured back.
Speaking at United’s training camp in Spain during the winter break, Solskjaer confirmed that Ighalo will be in the 18-man squad at Chelsea.
“Yeah, he is going to travel with us,” Solskjaer said. “We will just see his fitness work this week and I think we will get him sharp. We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us.”
Ighalo has been training on his own in Manchester (including plenty of drills with Team GB’s Taekwando team) while the squad has been in Spain due to concerns over him not being allowed back in the UK due to increased travel restrictions over coronavirus as Ighalo travelled to the UK from China to seal his move from Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day.
After losing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the summer without replacing them, Solskjaer was left woefully short of cover in the attacking third and Greenwood will likely step in to fill the significant void left by Rashford in the coming weeks. Ighalo’s role will be to come on for the final 30 minutes of games (and probably play a lot in the Europa League) to hold the ball up, get on the end of the chances the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Juan Mata create and to provide a calm head in the box.
If United are drawing at Chelsea with 20 minutes to go, expect Solskjaer to chuck on Ighalo as the powerful striker will certainly give the Red Devils a totally different dimension in attack. Many have mocked his signing but if you weigh everything up, getting a player who scores goals at an international level and has previous experience in the PL with Watford on a short-term basis who is hungry to impress should work well.