Manchester United are back in Premier League action this weekend as they welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford for the first derby of the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a stellar record against Pep Guardiola’s side but will be forced to shuffle the pack for this weekend’s encounter as he may be without two of his senior centre-back’s.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Raphael Varane would be ruled out for up to a month after limping off the 2-2 draw with Atalanta due to a hamstring injury. Victor Lindelof missed the game against the Italian outfit and now, Solskjaer has confirmed the Sweden international is a doubt for this weekend’s derby.
Although Lindelof is flagged as a doubt for the game, the manager has offered some optimism ahead of the crucial derby.
“He’s still a doubt but, hopefully, he can come in tomorrow and say he’s ready,” he is quoted as saying by the official Manchester United website. “I expect him to be ready tomorrow but I can’t confirm.”
SN’s verdict on Friday’s team news…
Solskjaer has opted to play with three central defenders in each of the last two games, with both Lindelof and Varane starting the 3-0 win at Tottenham last weekend.
Eric Bailly replaced Lindelof against Atalanta but there is not a clear replacement for Varane if the Norwegian boss intends on keeping the three-at-the-back formation. The alternative is to play with Harry Maguire, Bailly, and Luke Shaw as the left-sided centre-back, as he has done in the past.
Alex Telles would then take up a role on the left wing, as he did on his debut against Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.
Clearly, the news comes as a blow to Solskjaer’s hopes of extending his somewhat successful recovery attempt following that embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford.