Manchester United’s new interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been handed his first selection headache, as Romelu Lukaku is ruled out until December 30.
According to the Daily Mail, the Belgian striker has been absent at the Carrington training ground this week, having been granted compassionate leave. He is now expected to miss the club’s next two fixtures against Cardiff City and Huddersfield but will return to duty officially on Boxing Day.
This latest news will come as a huge blow to Solskjaer, who was appointed as the club’s new head coach on a caretaker basis until the end of the season earlier in the week, succeeding the sacked Jose Mourinho.
The Norwegian would surely have hoped to have his strongest squad to choose from for the trip to Cardiff, where he will need to get off to a good start with three points to start gaining the trust of the fans in his new role.
The Daily Mail reports that Lukaku should be ready to play against Bournemouth on at the end of the month, but between now and then United will have to make do without a recognised centre-forward.
In all likelihood now Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will be asked to step to the fore, having both played as strikers in the earlier stages of their careers, before Mourinho began to use them more as wingers.
Both men have pace to burn along with exceptional ability on the ball and could end up complimenting each other well if Solskajer opts for a partnership up front, but equally, either one is also capable of leading the line on their own.
According to the Daily Mail, the new Red Devils boss will restore Paul Pogba to the starting line-up against Cardiff City on Saturday, after he sat out the team’s last three fixtures amid reports of a dressing room discord with Mourinho.
As per Man United’s official website, in his first interview as the club’s new manager, Solskjaer told the current crop of players that they are all starting with a ‘clean slate’ under his stewardship and also promised to rotate the squad to give everyone a chance of action over the Christmas period.
Lukaku may not be able to contribute straight away but Solskjaer still has plenty to work with during his first two games at the helm and will be expected to start making up ground on fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League with two consecutive wins.