Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United will do everything they can to get captain Harry Maguire back from ankle ligament damage in time to lead the side out in the Europa League final.
Tuesday’s 2-1 loss against former club Leicester saw the 28-year-old miss his first Premier League match since joining the club in a world record deal for a defender in 2019.
Maguire watched from the stands with crutches and his left foot in a boot after finding out he had sustained ligament damage when Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi awkwardly landed on him on Sunday.
Solskjaer expects the defender to miss the remaining Premier League matches against Liverpool, Fulham and Wolves, but retains hopes that he could be fit to face Villarreal in the Europa League final on May 26.
“The good news is it wasn’t broken, there was no fracture, but a ligament injury, of course, is serious as well,” the United boss said.
“If I’m very positive… that’s maybe stretching it, I’m hopeful he might be ready for it.
“I don’t think he’ll play in the league again before but we’ll do everything we can to get him ready for the final.”
Maguire’s injury is a concern for country as well as club, with Gareth Southgate naming England’s European Championship squad the day before the Europa League final.
“You always try to look after players long-term,” Solskjaer said. “If he’s fit, he’ll play for us. If he’s not, he won’t.
“But, as I said, we’re hopeful that he’s ready and if he’s ready for us, he’ll probably be ready for the Euros. Norway’s not in the Euros, so I’m not really that concerned.”
If he had been fit, Solskjaer says Maguire would have joined Mason Greenwood in retaining his starting role against Leicester.
The United boss made 10 alterations as Tuesday’s game came just 50 hours after wrapping up a 3-1 victory at Villa Park and with Thursday’s rearranged clash against Liverpool looming large.
“There’ll be changes, of course,” Solskjaer said ahead of facing Jurgen Klopp’s men. “But many of the players that played tonight did really well, so they’re in contention as well.
“It’s about managing the squad now, building momentum, building confidence, making sure we get enough points to get second and then going into the final confident.”
Solskjaer is hoping the match can go ahead after the initial fixture was called off earlier this month due to anti-Glazer protests, which saw the team stuck in their hotel as fans got into the stadium and onto the pitch.
Another demonstration is planned on Thursday night, when United can all but end Liverpool’s hopes of reaching the top-four.
Asked if he is braced for any reaction given his changes against Leicester dented the Reds’ Champions League hopes, Solskjaer said: “My job is for Man United and my concern is the Man United fans – what they think about my team, what they want from my team and that we come together as one and show what Man United is.”
Edinson Cavani has bought into that mindset as this week he extended his contract with United until the end of next season.
The 34-year-old had been ready to leave after one campaign and return to South America, but the in-form frontman has now committed to the 2021/22 campaign.
“I think we’ve seen the last few months what we can expect and what we wanted from him,” Solskjaer said.
“Next season he’ll come ready. He’ll be fit when he comes in pre-season. This year he had seven months of no football to catch up and that’s not easy and he’s had a couple of niggles because of that.
“Just the same, professionality, he comes in every day, does everything right. The boys will look at him.
“He gives us a number nine position. I don’t know how many games we’ll get out of him but he’s one of the best number nines in the world at the moment.”