Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Juan Mata could return for today’s showdown with Granada. The Spain international has made just three appearances since the turn of the year. And he could now be in line to return.
Mata is one of Manchester United’s longest-serving players.
He’s been at the club ever since arriving from Chelsea in the January transfer window of 2014, back when David Moyes ruled the roost.
Mata has been a vital asset to United in the years since, playing a key role as they won the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League under Louis van Gaal and then Jose Mourinho.
However, this season, the 32-year-old has struggled for action.
Mata has made just 12 appearances across all competitions and three since the turn of the year.
His mother recently tragically passed away, which led to the playmaker being absent from the club for a little while.
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But now, speaking to United’s official website ahead of tonight’s match with Granada, Solskjaer has confirmed Mata could feature.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said when asked if fans can expect Mata to return soon.
“He’s come back in and trained with us now for a little bit more than a week and he looks himself again – sharp and he’s ready to come on.”
Solskjaer believes United’s 2-0 win in Spain in the first leg gives them a good platform to build upon against Granada, while acknowledging tonight’s visitors having nothing to lose.
“We know the foundation is there,” he said. “We’ve looked at the game and looked at the video in terms of what we need to improve on.
“That’s the point here that we go from game to game trying to improve.
“It’s not just about results, it’s the way we get those results as well which will lead to us, in the end, to being a better team. We go into this game wanting to win it.
“We’re at home and we want to build on this momentum that we’ve got now.”
He then added: “Yes, of course and they’ve got nothing to lose.
“They’re going to come here to try to win the game, they need to score and we want to score goals so, hopefully, it will be a good game.”
Solskjaer also elaborated on United’s 3-1 win over Tottenham on Sunday, admitting he wants his side to produce memorable, consistent performers like that on a regular basis.
They fell behind in north London after Son Heung-Min opened the scoring, blasting past Dean Henderson from close range.
But United upped the ante to turn the game around with Fred, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood all on target.
And Solskjaer said: “It was a very good second half, definitely.
“We’ve had some good ones before – Southampton away when we were 2-0 down and we had to come back and won 3-2, that was another very good performance, but this one was authoritative, lots of confidence, you could see the team spirit and you saw they didn’t give up.
“They came together at half-time and that’s the bar now, the standard and the expectation that we start the games better, we have to.”
Another player who could feature for United is Daniel James.
The Wales international has emerged as a vital player as the season has gone on, proving to be particularly useful in the Europa League.
And Solskjaer said: “Dan James is back.
“He trained on Wednesday so he should be available. Of course, we’ve lost a few through suspension for this game against Granada.”