Solskjaer 'ever the optimist' but expects Maguire to miss Europa League final

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he is "ever the optimist" but does not expect Manchester United captain Harry Maguire to be fit for the Europa League final.

Maguire hurt his ankle in the 3-1 win at Aston Villa on May 9 and missed his side's final four Premier League matches of the season.

The England international has had to use a protective boot during his recovery but has not been definitively ruled out of Wednesday's match with Villarreal in Gdansk.

However, Solskjaer admits it is unlikely Maguire will be able to come through a full training session in Poland in just 48 hours' time.

"I will wait for Wednesday," the United manager said after Sunday's 2-1 win at Wolves. "Maybe see if he can run on Tuesday but it is still a bit away. I don't expect him to be ready.

"Of course, he wants to play but it is going to be up to the doctor. I don't expect him to be ready. It does not look great but, ever the optimist, I am still hopeful.

"He has to train on Tuesday when we are over there. It is not many days. I don't expect him to be ready."

United's win at Molineux saw them become only the third different club to go an entire top-flight season in England without losing an away game, after Preston North End (1888-89) and Arsenal twice (2001-02 and 2003-04).

Solskjaer chose to rest several key first-team players ahead of Wednesday's final, handing starts to back-ups such as Brandon Williams, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata, as well as youngsters Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga, while Will Fish and Hannibal Mejbri made their senior debuts as late substitutes.

Elanga broke the deadlock with his first Premier League goal before Mata's penalty secured the win after Nelson Semedo had equalised.

Solskjaer said he may well have fielded a stronger side had United been able to play a day earlier, as Villarreal did.

"If we had played yesterday I would probably have picked a different team. I am glad I didn't because it's the first win I have had here," he said.

"Fair play to LaLiga, moving seven games just for Villarreal to have another day of preparation. They could have played tonight and rested players against Real Madrid, it could have been a different result and you never know what that would have changed.

"Good by them and we have to think about it ourselves, definitely. We did not ask the Premier League but of course, whenever we can help our own teams we should do it."

Even with Maguire likely to be sidelined, Solskjaer still hopes he can win his maiden trophy as United boss in what will be his first final since his return to the club in late 2018.

"You always feel pressure at Man United to win things, win trophies," he said. "That is one of the steps. Sometimes a trophy can hide other imperfections but the progress in the league, that we have been in loads of semi-finals, it shows progress.

"But the next step for this team is to win trophies and challenge the champions in the Premier League as well.

"When you win things, you just want to win more. You want to feel that sensation. I know my players will believe but when you get the taste of that first one, it is a big step in the right direction. It is that taste for it. The belief is there, for sure."

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