Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lets slip Odion Ighalo role for Watford showdown

Man Utd: Paul Pogba and Odion Ighalo dance in changing room

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has let slip Odion Ighalo will be on the bench for his side’s FA Cup showdown with Watford on Saturday. The Nigeria international’s time at Old Trafford is coming to an end. He’s poised to return to Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua when the transfer window closes at the end of the campaign.

United sent shockwaves around the footballing world when they signed Ighalo in January last year.

The Nigeria international arrived having spent the last few years playing in China, and was brought in as cover for Marcus Rashford.

Ighalo did well enough last term, scoring twice against Derby County and also managing further goals against Club Brugge, LASK and Norwich.

But he’s struggled for game time this term, making just four appearances across all competitions.

United face Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday seeking a return to winning ways after losing their Carabao Cup semi-final to Manchester City in midweek.

And Solskjaer appears to have let slip Ighalo will be on the bench for the match against the Hornets, saying: “Odion, it’s special for him against Watford.

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“He will be involved, he’s in the squad, he’s been training really well.

“Hopefully I don’t need to put him on that we need goals, but hopefully he can join in.”

Ighalo is well down United’s pecking order at present.

Anthony Martial leads the line most weeks for the Red Devils, despite the France international scoring just two goals in domestic football this term.

Mason Greenwood is a centre-forward in the making and he, too, has been unleashed in the No 9 role.

And Ighalo also has Edinson Cavani blocking his path to the first team, though the Uruguay international will miss the match against Watford through suspension.


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Solskjaer has been happy with the African striker’s impact, however, saying: “It’s been difficult for him to be out of the squad as many times as he has because he did really well up until the summer.

“This season he’s not had as many opportunities but he’s never let himself down as a professional and a human being.

“In training he always works hard and he’s been a positive influence in the dressing room.”

Meanwhile, Solskjaer has admitted he’s worried about United’s recent defending from set pieces.

The Red Devils have shipped goals against the likes of City, Leeds, Sheffield United and Paris Saint-Germain from set plays this season.

And Solskjaer said: “That’s a worry, of course.

“It’s a worry when you concede goals but we have defended really well at times.

“Against Man City when you defend as well as you do in open play and you don’t really concede too many chances you’re disappointed [with what happened].

“In big games against good players and good teams we lose that bit of focus. It’s a big part of football – so many goals are conceded from set plays.

“We do have a good record of winning the first ball, but when we don’t it seems like it goes in every time.

“It’s something that we have addressed, that we need to do better at; we seem to suffer [badly] from this. When we don’t get the first contact we have been punished quite severely and more often than anyone else.”

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