Manchester United kicked off their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 win over Derby and with a host of regulars missing, Solskjaer was able to check on some of his fringe players
For the first time in 191 days Manchester United fans got a glimpse of Jesse Lingard back in the red of Manchester United.
Not since playing 80 minutes of the FA Cup third round tie vs Watford in January, has the academy graduate had the chance to play for his boyhood club.
Deemed surplus to requirements, Lingard was allowed to join West Ham later that month, in a move that appeared to bring the curtain down on his Old Trafford career.
What happened after that is well known, with the 28-year-old rediscovering his best form while in east London, scoring nine times in the final five months of the campaign.
Action Images via Reuters)
From a player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have likely moved on from in his mind, there was suddenly a source of debate both between fans, and those behind the scenes.
A recent report in the Athletic suggested there was a split at the club between those who thought cashing on the £30million-rated star was the right decision and those who think he should be offered a new deal.
By the end of the upcoming season, Lingard will be able to leave on a free transfer and it’s unlikely his stock will be higher than it is at present.
But after Solskjaer opted to play the England international in his squad’s opening pre-season fixture against Derby County, he hinted he could yet have a future.
“Jesse has come back, he’s been bright and he wants to fight for his place,” he explained, following the 2-1 win at Pride Park. “There’s nothing better than seeing players willing to fight for their place.
“Of course, what he did towards the end of the season, that is the true Jesse. That’s what we know he is capable of.
“I think we saw towards the end [of our own season] that we lacked maybe some options at times.”
The “lack of options” highlighted by Solskjaer may be imminently bolstered by the arrival of Jadon Sancho, but they could also take a hit thanks to Marcus Rashford’s impending spell on the sidleines.
Solskjaer confirmed that Rashford has yet to decide on whether he will have surgery on his troublesome shoulder issue – with the initial prognosis suggesting he could miss three months if he goes under the knife.
“We’re looking at the best options,” Solskjaer confirmed on Rashford. “We’re still addressing that with the experts.”
Should he decide that surgery is the best course of action, it could give Lingard one final chance at becoming a permanent fixture in Solskjaer’s XI.
“He’s still in my plans. I expect him at Man Utd at the start of the season.”
While the debate may rage on social media, it appears that with those that truly matter, a decision has already been made.
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