Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Odion Ighalo is available to make his Manchester United debut against Chelsea next Monday and will travel with the squad to Stamford Bridge.
The Nigerian striker has joined the club on loan from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua until the end of the season and, as a lifelong Reds supporter, our passionate new no.25 is desperate to get started.
Although Ighalo is not with the players who have travelled to southern Spain for training this week, for reasons out of the club’s control, Solskjaer is keen to quickly integrate him into the team.
That’s what the manager told us during an exclusive interview at the Marbella Football Centre on Monday, after another industrious and hard-working training session under the warm Spanish sun. As you can read here, Ole is confident that his side can use this break to fuel the season’s conclusion…
“Yeah, it's very good. I think the boys enjoyed a break, they needed a break, but now they are back, focused and they have been working well.”Are these conditions everything that you hoped for?
“Yeah, of course with the weather back home as well, this has been an even bigger plus for us. Being in Europe, because the travel isn't too far, is also a good point because we don't have too many days before we have to go back and get ready for Chelsea.”
“Well, overall, he is a very, very good footballer and his brain is obviously quicker than many others. He has got loads of attributes that we are going to get used to. We will get used to him and he will get used to us. His passing range, his deliveries, his movements, I am just pleased to see him here enjoying himself.”It looks like you’ll have to drag him off the training pitch…
“Yeah, he trains and he trains and he trains, so his fitness levels and enthusiasm is brilliant.”What an opportunity this week is for our two young goalkeepers Jacob Carney and Nathan Bishop, who must be learning so much from this?
“Yeah, they will learn of course. They are not used to that tempo and that quality from where their normal everyday work is. It is a great opportunity for us as well to learn about their mentality and character, because you have got to have a personality as a young player coming into this group.”
Reds hit the target in second Spanish sessionVideo
“I hope that we will see some of them before the end of this week, but next week will be a big week for them as well to get them match fit, so hopefully we can get them back on the pitch with their kit on soon.”When they are back, there will be loads of competition at centre-back and in central midfield as well. That's what you want, isn't?
“Of course! It is a long season. Overall, during every season, every team has injuries and we have been hit badly this year and we have felt the lack of numbers. But when everyone is back, the competition for every place is big and hopefully we will have two games every week. We want to go through in the Europa League, we want to go through in the FA Cup and of course the league is important, so we need players to rotate with.”
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Odion Ighalo is back in Manchester and we'll link up with him at the weekend. How much are you looking forward to seeing him on the training pitch, and is he available for Chelsea away?
“Yeah, he is going to travel with us. We will just see his fitness work this week and I think we will get him sharp. We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us.”Finally, we saw you doing some kick-ups before and you look like you've still got it! Do you miss it?
“If you don't use it, you lose it [laughs]! That's my word, but of course you miss it. I love playing football, it is the best thing in the world, but age takes its toll.”
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