Daily Express

It’s Ole to play for now


- From David McDonnell in Linz


OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER has told his Manchester United players to prove their individual worth as the season enters the home straight.

United are chasing Europa League and FA Cup glory, as well as trying to secure Champions League qualificat­ion via their Premier League position.

The Red Devils face LASK Linz in the first leg of their last- 16 tie, with Solskjaer telling his stars to show that they deserve selection.

United are on a 10- game unbeaten run and head into tonight’s match – which is being played behind closed doors because of fears over the spread of coronaviru­s – in their best form of the season.

Against that backdrop, and with competitio­n for places now intense after the recent upturn in form, United boss Solskjaer said that he will only select players who have earned the right to play.

“The mindset is getting there, the focus is getting there, with the squad we are building and with competitio­n for places,” said Solskjaer.

“We’ve now got 24 or 25 players training and competing every day and they all know it’s the business end of the season.

“We’re not giving out gametime now just for the sake of game- time – you need to perform to be in and around the first team or even on the bench.”

United midfielder Scott McTominay, who scored the second goal in Sunday’s 2- 0 win over bitter rivals Manchester City, said it will be strange playing in an empty stadium.

“Growing up in the Under- 17s or reserve team, you’re used to playing in front of lesser crowds,” said McTominay.

“Then you play in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford.

“It will be strange but the boys just have to keep focused, keep the mentality the same and keep doing what we’re doing. Not much changes for us.”

United trio Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan- Bissaka and Diogo Dalot did not make the trip to Austria. France striker Martial collided with an upright during the win over City and may not be fit for Sunday’s trip to Tottenham.

“Anthony hurt himself when he slid into the post so he’s not ready,” said Solskjaer. “Hopefully he will be ready for Sunday but I am not sure because he is struggling a little bit.”

Paul Pogba, United’s French internatio­nal midfielder, who has made just eight appearance­s this season and has not played since Boxing Day after ankle surgery, could be back in contention next week.

“Paul is getting closer,” added Solskjaer.

“He’s not trained fully with the team but by next week he will be ready.”

 ??  ?? EMPTY FEELING McTominay says it will be strange to perform behind closed doors
EMPTY FEELING McTominay says it will be strange to perform behind closed doors
 ??  ?? THREAT: Solskjaer ‘ not giving out gametime for sake of it’
THREAT: Solskjaer ‘ not giving out gametime for sake of it’
 ??  ??

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