Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed concern about crucial defensive duo Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw after both of them hobbled off against Aston Villa. Their injuries were merely a subplot in an encounter packed with drama as Kortney Hause’s late winner gave his side the three points, but only thanks to a last-gasp Bruno Fernandes penalty miss.
In a tough afternoon for the Red Devils, Shaw was replaced in the first half after suffering what appeared to be a muscular injury.
After the break, Harry Maguire was replaced by Victor Lindelof following continued discomfort after receiving treatment.
Their conditions have provoked fear over whether they will be available to face Villarreal on Wednesday night.
It is a crunch clash for United given they stumbled to a humiliating defeat in their opening European fixture at the hands of Swiss minnows Young Boys.
If the Norwegian’s fears are confirmed, the pair would join the injured list alongside Marcus Rashford and Amad Diallo, two wingers who are not expected to return for another few weeks.
Maguire and Shaw have both established themselves as essential parts of United’s back four, a quartet of talent which effectively picks itself these days.
Shaw is in a prolonged period of tremendous form for both United and England, while Maguire is in the early stages of a promising partnership with World Cup winner Raphael Varane.
Seeing the pair sidelined would present adverse circumstances for Solskjaer to turn his side’s fortunes around.
Defeat against Villa was their third in four games, and they now face an extremely tough run of fixtures over the next couple of months.
With this in mind, Solskjaer must weigh up the notion that playing them against Villarreal could risk provoking a longer-term injury, but leaving them out could risk group stage humiliation.
United know the dangers of Villarreal better than most, given they crushed Solskjaer’s dreams of breaking his silverware duck back in May by beating them in the Europa League final via a dramatic penalty shootout.
All this being said, dealing with injuries is nothing new for a manager, and it is time for the United boss to earn his money.