Why Ighalo may not play against Chelsea

Former Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo joins Manchester United
Former Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo joins Manchester United

Nigerians and fans across the world hoping to see Manchester United’s deadline day signing Odion Ighalo in action against Chelsea on Monday night may have to brace up for the worst.

This follows the clarification made on Friday by United’s boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he never made a categorical statement that the former Super Eagles striker will be considered fit for the crunch clash at Stamford Bridge.

Solskjaer confirmed earlier this week that Ighalo would travel down to London with the rest of the squad, and suggested that the fact the Nigerian has not yet trained with his team-mates wouldn’t keep him out of contention for the match at Stamford Bridge.

“I never said he was going to be ready to play on Monday,” Ole told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“He’ll be involved with us and he’ll travel down with us and, obviously, now he’s out of that two-week period of precaution and it’s a precaution we’ve made.

“He’ll travel with us and let’s see if he’s involved or not.

“He’s done his [training programme] and it was always going to be a case of him having to integrate into the group anyway after having been out in China. He needs to get used to the players and the team and up to speed as quick as he can.”

The Norwegian went down memory lane to his own club debut against Blackburn Rovers in 1996, when he came on as a substitute and scored.

“I didn’t have to have a training session to come on and do something.

“As a striker, sometimes you just get thrown out there and do what you can. It might be that he’ll have to come off the bench and get us a goal and then he just does whatever he’s always done,” he said.

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Ighalo’s fellow new signing Bruno Fernandes is in line to make his first United appearance away from home.

Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe both travelled to the Reds’ winter training camp in Marbella and worked closely with fitness staff, but Ole has admitted the match against the Blues will come too soon for the pair, who have been out since December.

Also, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford remain on the sidelines, while Tim Fosu-Mensah – who is yet to make an appearance this campaign, but was also in Spain – has suffered a minor injury setback, yet hopes to be involved before the end of the month.

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