Solskjaer remains hopeful Maguire will play in Europa League final

By Sports Desk May 12, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not expect Harry Maguire to feature in the Premier League again this season but remains hopeful he will be fit for the Europa League final.

United captain Maguire suffered ankle ligament damage when he collided with Anwar El Ghazi during a 3-1 win at Aston Villa last Sunday.

The England centre-back was at Old Trafford on crutches wearing a protective boot on his left foot for a 2-1 loss to Leicester City on Tuesday, a defeat that sealed the title for Manchester City.

Solskjaer thinks Maguire's top-flight campaign is over with three games to play, but is optimistic he will face Villarreal in Gdansk on May 26.

The United boss said on the eve of Thursday's Premier League encounter with Liverpool: "The good news was it wasn't broken. There was no fracture, but a ligament injury of course is serious as well.

"If I'm very positive - that's maybe stretching it - I'm hopeful that he might be ready for it [the Europa League final]. I don't think he'll play in the league again before [the end of the season]. We'll do everything we can to get him ready for the final."

Solskjaer said there should be no concerns that he might take a risk by playing Maguire with Euro 2020 on the horizon.

"You always try to look after players long-term. If he's fit, he'll play for us, if he's not he won't," said the former Norway striker.

"As I said, we're hopeful that he's ready. If he's ready for us, he'll probably be ready for the Euros. Norway are not in the Euros, so I'm not really that concerned [about the Euros]."

Solskjaer made 10 changes to his starting line-up for the defeat to the Foxes and will rotate again when they face Champions League hopefuls Liverpool, given United are amid a schedule of four games in the space of 10 days.

"There will be changes of course but many of the players that played tonight did really well so they're in contention as well," he added.

"It's about managing the squad now and building momentum, building confidence, making sure we get enough points to get second and then going into the final confident."

Related items

  • Moyes not revising ambition after West Ham's perfect Europa League start Moyes not revising ambition after West Ham's perfect Europa League start

    West Ham manager David Moyes is refusing to get carried away with his side's perfect start to the Europa League and insists his goal remains qualifying for the knockout stages.

    The Hammers made it three wins from three games in Group H after defeating Belgian club Genk 3-0 at home on Thursday, following victories over Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna.

    West Ham are only the second English side to win each of their first three group games in a single Europa League campaign without conceding a goal, alongside Tottenham in 2013-14.

    The last team from any nation to achieve this was Sevilla who eventually won the competition in 2019-20 but Moyes would not be drawn on any comparisons.

    "I'm keeping relatively calm because we've got to go to Genk away and Vienna away," Moyes during his post-game news conference. "I'm not going to take anything for granted.

    "I said I want to be in Europe after Christmas. That's my plan for this year. We need another couple of points to qualify, not to win the group but if we can get that it would be a great start.

    "The players have done a brilliant job. They really have. We've not won any of them easily. They've all been tough. The games have been close, even though we've been the better team in all three of the games. We've got to keep working to get those extra points to make sure we qualify."

    West Ham's first two goals against Genk came from set pieces, with Craig Dawson and Issa Diop heading home from Aaron Cresswell's free-kicks.

    Cresswell has assisted eight goals from dead-ball situations in all competitions since the start of the season, more than any other Premier League player.

    Dawson has netted five goals in all club competitions this calendar year, which is equal best for any Premier League defender along with Manchester City's John Stones.

    Angelo Ogbonna nodded in the winner from a Jarrod Bowen set-piece in Sunday's Premier League win over Everton too.

    "It may be more effective in European football," Moyes said when asked about his side's set-piece threat. "The Premier League has got a lot of strong defences, and attackers who can defend set-pieces.

    "Up until Everton, I’m not sure we had scored this season from a set-piece, so it is not as if we have been doing it every game but thankfully we got the winning goal at Everton and tonight as well.

    "Craig Dawson is excellent at it, Issa Diop gets a goal tonight from it as well. Our centre-halves are the players on top scoring goals at the moment so I am happy with that and long may that continue."

  • Gerrard: Rangers close to perfect after kick-starting Europa League campaign Gerrard: Rangers close to perfect after kick-starting Europa League campaign

    Steven Gerrard says Rangers were close to perfect as they claimed an important victory over Brondby in the Europa League.

    First-half goals from Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe sealed a 2-0 win at Ibrox – and the hosts' first points of this season's competition.

    That helped Gerrard's team move off the bottom of Group A at the halfway stage, while closing the gap on second-placed Sparta Prague to just a single point.

    The Rangers boss admitted the pressure was on his side, who began their campaign with defeats against Sparta and runaway leaders Lyon.

    But he was ultimately delighted with the way his players rose to the occasion on Thursday.

    "I thought it was a strong home performance in Europe," Gerrard told BT Sport.

    "We've kick-started our Europa League campaign. The first two results haven't been good enough, which put a lot of pressure on us tonight.

    "But we've got to go and replicate this performance and result [away at Brondby] in a couple of weeks' time.

    "I thought the fans were magnificent. The game plan we set out to do, the players have delivered.

    "It's really close to the performance we're looking for. 

    "We've played well for halves and 60 minutes, but tonight was really close to a perfect 90-minute performance."

    Gerrard also hailed the display of Joe Aribo, who provided a constant threat to the reigning Danish Superliga champions with his pace and power.

    No Rangers player was involved in more duels (15) than the winger, who also completed 58 of his 62 passes and only James Tavernier (111) among the hosts' team bettered his tally of 93 touches.

    The 25-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Ibrox, with Gerrard admitting it will be difficult to retain his services should he continue to perform to a high level. 

    "He's a great kid; he wants to learn and he wants to grow," the Rangers boss added.

    "What I've said to Joe is: 'you're a much better player when you play angry in a nice way. You're a big strong lad; go and put yourself about' and when he does, he's a joy to watch.

    "I thought his first 45-minute performance was outstanding. That's probably the reason why he tired a little bit, but he's played a lot and he's been away on international duty [with Nigeria]. 

    "But if he can find that performance consistently over 90 minutes, we'll be lucky to keep hold of him."

  • Rangers 2-0 Brondby: Balogun and Roofe seal crucial Europa League win for Steven Gerrard's side Rangers 2-0 Brondby: Balogun and Roofe seal crucial Europa League win for Steven Gerrard's side

    Rangers secured their first win of this season's Europa League as they enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Brondby at Ibrox.

    First-half goals from Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe were enough to give Steven Gerrard's side the points and move them off the bottom of Group A.

    Balogun opened his account for the club with a thumping 18th-minute header from James Tavernier's corner.

    Roofe put the game beyond the reigning Danish Superliga champions on the half-hour mark with his 25th goal in 49 appearances.

    Both sides were searching for their first goals in Group A, having drawn blanks in their opening two fixtures.

    Rangers broke their duck early on – and so did Balogun, with the centre-half netting his maiden goal for the club in his 40th appearance.

    The visitors spurned a great opportunity to equalise when Andrija Pavlovic fired over from close range, and they were made to pay as the hosts doubled their lead through Roofe's tap-in after half an hour.

    Reacting quickest after Alfredo Morelos' header was saved, the former Leeds United striker was initially denied by the offside flag, but that decision was correctly overturned following a consultation with VAR.

    Brondby squandered another great chance within seconds of the second half beginning when Uhre shot wide after Borna Barisic's loose pass inadvertently sent him clear on goal.

    That was the closest the visitors came to threatening a comeback and inflicting a fourth defeat in five home European matches for Rangers.

    Scott Arfield and Fashion Sakala went close to adding a third later on for Gerrard's team, who saw out victory and claimed a hugely important three points.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.