Red Devils boss says he won’t take any chances with England international’s fitness
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Marcus Rashford was taken out of Thursday’s Europa League game against AC Milan with a “little pinch”.
Rashford was replaced by Paul Pogba at half-time at the San Siro, raising concerns about the England international’s fitness. His manager insisted the issue was not too serious, but said the club couldn’t take any chances with the 23-year-old.
Despite Rashford’s withdrawal, the Red Devils overtook Milan 2-1 on aggregate.
What did Solskjaer say?
“Marcus a little pinch – we couldn’t risk him,” Solskjaer said of Rashford.
Although forced on him, the replacement for Solskjaer proved to be inspired, with Pogba scoring the only goal to send Manchester United to the quarter-finals.
The 28-year-old, who was making his first Europa League appearance of the season, had been sidelined in early February with a thigh injury.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Solskjaer said he didn’t want to take any chances with Pogba’s fitness either.
“He couldn’t have played more than 45 minutes,” Solskjaer said. “[His return is a] big boost. The boys have done fantastic things without him but we know his qualities.
The big picture
Rashford has almost always been around for Manchester United this season, making 45 appearances in all competitions, with the only game he missed being last week’s round of 16 first leg against Milan.
He has scored 18 goals and has 10 other assists to his name, with the Red Devils also advancing to the FA Cup quarter-finals and currently occupying second place in the Premier League.
His importance to the team is therefore indisputable and would explain why Solskjaer refused to take risks, despite calling the injury minor.
There has been speculation that a long-standing shoulder problem may require surgery at the end of the season, although Rashford was keen to play down rumors about his fitness earlier this week, saying he “Can rest upon retirement”.
However, his untimely exit from San Siro must call into question his participation in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final trip to Leicester.
Gareth Southgate will also tone down the situation closely, with Rashford due to join England next week for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.