Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is in a "much better place" than a month ago as he nears a return to full fitness.

Rashford has been out since mid-January due to a back injury, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying earlier this month the club would not rush his comeback.

The England international is making good progress, though, and suggests he will be ready to resume training once the squad are cleared to go back to work after the coronavirus pandemic.

"I feel much better," Rashford told Sky Sports News. "I have a scan in another couple of days and that should solidify it, but I feel much better compared to two or three weeks ago.

"I feel 10 times better now. For me, now it's just about getting ready to build back up to training and then playing games for the team.

"I'm in a much better place. I'm much happier than I was about a month ago, so things are looking positive."

Rashford says his recent rehabilitation has been carried out at home due to the restrictions put in place to control the impact of COVID-19.

"Everyone is just dealing with the circumstances as well as they can," he added.

"I've just been in my house doing my gym work and recovery, reading books, watching Netflix and just doing what I can do to make the time pass further.

"There's not really anything you can do that comes close to being in the changing room and being in the team, so I'm not trying to chase that high.

"I had to have time off anyway because of my injury, but I'm fortunate enough to have a bike in the gym downstairs. Not much in that sense has actually changed for me because I can still do my daily routine that I was doing."

Rashford is also heading up a campaign for the FareShare charity, which aims to raise £100,000 to help supply food to children who usually have free school meals but are currently unable to access them.

"I didn't know how high the numbers were of kids not eating at home other than school meals. That number kind of shocked me," Rashford said.

"And then I remember speaking to a friend who was saying there was an opportunity where we can help these people and FareShare allowed us to make it work.

"I don't think I've actually ever done something at such short notice before. I thought let's try and get to £100,000 and right now we're on £97,000."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he will not rush Marcus Rashford back from injury.

Rashford has been out since mid-January due to a back injury and there has been some confusion over how long he will be absent.

Initially it was thought Rashford could return in March, then it was suggested he may miss the remainder of the season and Euro 2020.

Further scans at the end of February were "quite positive", leading to new reports claiming Rashford might return for the closing stages of the Premier League season, undoubtedly providing United a major boost if they are still fighting for Champions League qualification.

Solskjaer is erring on the side of caution, however, and is adamant United will not throw him back into first-team football too soon.

"As [with] any player, he wants to be fit as quickly as possible and play as soon as possible," Solskjaer told MUTV.

"If that means playing in April, if he'll be fit for us towards the end of the season, fantastic. If it takes longer, it takes longer.

"We just have to be sensible with it because we're going to have Marcus playing here for many, many years.

"The scans were encouraging. He's now working in the gym and in the pool, and he's moving around better. He's in and around the place.

"It's like how long is a piece of rope [in terms of a return date]? It's difficult."

Marcus Rashford insists winning trophies with Manchester United is what counts as he admitted last season's stunning comeback at Paris Saint-Germain meant nothing as they failed to win the Champions League.

Rashford's injury-time penalty secured a 3-1 victory at Parc des Princes as United, shorn of several first-team players, became the first side in the competition's history to overturn a deficit of 2-0 or greater from a first leg at home as they progressed on away goals.

Despite the celebrations after that last-16 triumph, United were dispatched 4-0 across two legs by Barcelona in the quarter-finals as their 2018-19 season fizzled out to leave them without silverware or a Champions League return.

Rashford admits such victories ultimately matter little if there is no trophy to follow.

"We didn't go on to win the competition or reach the final," he told FourFourTwo. "So, in my mind, it doesn't stand for anything.

"We need to start showing signs that we can be the United of old. Football has changed a lot, so it's not going to be exactly the same, but we know the club can do it. It's been difficult, but it's a period of transition. As long as we stay focused, I don't see why we can't turn things around and really improve."

Rashford had been in fine form for United during manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's season of rebuilding until a serious back injury, which is likely to keep him out for several more weeks, brought his campaign to a halt.

The FA Cup and Europa League represent the Red Devils' best chances of lifting a trophy in 2019-20, with Liverpool running away in the Premier League title race and Manchester City having claimed the EFL Cup.

Rashford is desperate to end a three-year wait for a title of any kind, even if his longer-term ambitions are a little higher than domestic cups.

Asked about his hopes, he said: "To win the World Cup, and for Man United to win the Champions League.

"As long as the team is successful and we get back to winning titles and trophies, that's the main thing for me."

Aside from prizes, Rashford also plans to go down in history as one of the great players to represent United from academy to senior side.

"That's always the aim," he said. "You grow up around so many people who have that United legend status that it becomes part of your dream.

"When you dream of playing for Man United, you don't only dream of making your debut; you dream of being like [David] Beckham, [Paul] Scholes and [Ryan] Giggs. It's part of the dream as an academy lad."

Marcus Rashford is expected to make his return from a back injury late this season in a boost for Manchester United, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Rashford, who has scored 19 goals this season, has been sidelined since mid-January due to the injury.

But amid fears the forward would miss the rest of the campaign, Solskjaer revealed the 22-year-old England international was likely to return late in 2019-20.

"The scan came back quite positive," he told UK newspapers.

"But we will give him the time he needs. He's desperate to come back, of course, but it'll be another couple of months before we see him, probably.

"We can't rush it, but when he is fit he will be stronger for it so when he comes back it's going to be a big boost for us."

While United are fifth in the Premier League ahead of visiting Everton on Sunday, they are in the FA Cup fifth round and Europa League last 16.

Solskjaer said Rashford was eager to return as United chase some silverware this season.

"He's around the place, in the dressing room before games, at half-time. He wants the boys to do well so he can come back and play in the Europa League, the FA Cup final," he said.

"He wants to be there when the business end comes."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is "touch and go" if Marcus Rashford plays again for Manchester United this season and cast doubt on his availability for England at Euro 2020.

Rashford has not featured for United since the FA Cup third-round replay against Wolves on January 15 due to a stress fracture in his back.

Originally, Rashford was expected to miss around six weeks and it was hoped he may return to action around April.

However, speaking prior to the Red Devils' Europa League clash at Club Brugge, Solskjaer said Rashford's injury was worse than first thought.

"He had a scan and it was maybe more severe than what we hoped and expected. He felt fine a few days before that," he said.

"I didn't know it takes that time to recover. When it heals he will be stronger for it so it's important we don't rush it.

"I would hope he's playing again this season it will just be touch and go towards the end. 

"Hopefully we can get through this tournament [Europa League] and prolong the season. 

"It takes time, I'm not a doctor but obviously I was hoping he'd recover quicker than it actually looks like he's going to be out for, another few months definitely."

England's first Euro 2020 fixture is against Croatia at Wembley on June 14 but, when asked if Rashford would be fit for the Three Lions, Solskjaer was non-committal. 

"I would hope he plays before then but if he's not fit enough he won't go," he added.

United made a move to replace Rashford in the short term with the loan signing of Odion Ighalo in the January transfer window.

Solskjaer's Norwegian compatriot Erling Haaland was another tipped to move to Old Trafford before he opted to join Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg.

Haaland has proven an instant hit at Signal Iduna Park, scoring 11 goals in just seven appearances, and Solskjaer is delighted to see the 19-year-old impressing.

"I normally never comment but since I have had Erling I'm delighted for him," Solskjaer said of the striker he coached at Molde.

"He's a top boy I want the best for and he's started fantastically for Dortmund. For Norway it's brilliant we have a striker who can score again."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged loan signing Odion Ighalo to earn a permanent stay at the club.

Ighalo joined United on a temporary deal on deadline day, as the club desperately sought a short-term solution to Marcus Rashford's serious injury, which is expected to keep him out until April.

While Bournemouth's Josh King was considered by United, with Eddie Howe confirming the club made an approach, Shanghai Shenhua-owned Ighalo was the striker they chose.

Although the Nigerian only joined on loan, Solskjaer sees no reason why securing a permanent contract should be seen as beyond the 30-year-old.

"It's a loan, but when you're in the door, and if you impress, it gives you a chance," Solskjaer said. "That's exactly the same for everyone who signs.

"If it's permanent or if it's a loan, if you impress as a player, if you impress as a person, if you can help this group improve, of course there's a chance we'll look at extending things.

"That doesn't just go for Odion but, yes, his incentive is to play as well as he can and it's up to us to make sure he wants to stay, if we want him."

United critics suggested Ighalo was a desperate last-ditch signing by the club, particularly given they were said to be chasing the sought-after Erling Haaland prior to his Borussia Dortmund move.

But Solskjaer dismissed that notion and is optimistic Ighalo will hush his doubters.

"Don't go down that route now," Solskjaer responded. "He's a loan player that we're very happy with having here. Hopefully he'll prove to you what I think he will. He's a proven goalscorer, so he'll do all right.

"I'm very happy with the two guys we brought in and it's not just us and Chelsea. But to finally have got Bruno [Fernandes] over the line, to have signed him after following him for so long, and just seeing what he can give us and what he will give us, has been great. And it will be great to integrate Odion as well."

Ighalo is expected to make his United debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday but is not thought to be in contention for a starting spot after training away from the first-team squad due to coronavirus fears.

Each close-season transfer window has a defining 'saga' and everything points to the next revolving around Jadon Sancho and Manchester United.

Media reports began to circulate on Wednesday claiming Sancho is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, having emerged as one of world football's next great hopes since joining from Manchester City.

The England international seems likely to return home later this year and United are rumoured to be leading the chase, ready to pay £120million for his signature.

United's issues on the flanks are nothing new. For several years they have seemingly operated with a bizarre square-pegs-round-holes policy, assigning numerous players who clearly aren't wingers to wide roles.

We looked at the data to understand how Sancho stacks up with United's current attacking options.

A PROLIFIC CREATOR

It's difficult to imagine Sancho joining United and not having a swift and decisive impact. The only other genuine winger in their squad is Daniel James, and while the Wales international has enjoyed a solid debut season after a shock move, he has faded recently and clearly lacks a certain presence.

After Andreas Pereira (31), Fred (30) and Marcus Rashford (24), James (23) has created the most Premier League chances for United this term and his haul of six assists isn't matched by any of his team-mates.

By comparison, Sancho has laid on 47 opportunities for team-mates in the Bundesliga this season, the fifth-highest in the division, and his haul of 13 assists is the same amount as James, Anthony Martial and Rashford combined.

SUBTLETY IN THE FINAL THIRD

The United squad isn't exactly blessed with lots of physical attackers renowned for their aerial ability, which suggests hooking hopeful crosses into the box does not represent a fertile route to goal.

For the most part, United forwards aren't desperate to cross, with Pereira (28), Rashford (19) and Martial (7) often looking for alternative ways to penetrate the box, but James (79) is the 11th most-frequent crosser in the league, even if he's some way off Trent Alexander-Arnold (159).

Sancho fits in more with the former group, supplying only 22 crosses this season. Perhaps such a low figure is justified by the fact only five per cent were accurate.

Nevertheless, this does suggest Sancho is more subtle and deliberate with his creativity, and given he has crafted comfortably more chances and goals than the United contingent, it is difficult to argue he should alter his style.

A KEY INFLUENCE

As someone who creates so many opportunities, it wouldn't be unusual to expect Sancho to be somewhat wayward in possession, given the necessity to take risks.

But 80 per cent of his 496 passes into the final third have been accurate. Of the 284 Bundesliga players to play at least 50 passes into that part of the pitch, only 11 have greater accuracy than Sancho, though none of those attempted more than 308.

Martial, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all been more accurate in the final third, but Sancho has attempted far more passes, while none of them have got anywhere close to the Dortmund star's chance creation record.

DEADLY WHEN IT MATTERS

Sancho's not just a creator, however.

As well as his 13 assists, Sancho has also chipped in with 12 Bundesliga goals this season, a figure bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (22) and Timo Werner (20).

Those 12 goals came from 37 attempts, meaning he is averaging almost a goal every three shots, comfortably better than Martial (17 per cent of 48 shots) and Rashford (19 per cent of 74 shots).

A complete player in attack, Sancho offers an all-round threat that United simply do not possess.

He also appears to be the ideal player for United stylistically, with his attributes and dynamism similar to the likes of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood, around whom club seem intent on building their future.

Will Sancho be the next to join that trio?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United need "someone who wants to break their nose to score a goal" as the end of the January transfer window draws near.

United were denied a place in the EFL Cup final on Wednesday, with a 1-0 second-leg victory over rivals Manchester City not quite enough to overturn a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer was again without top-scorer Marcus Rashford, who is facing a lengthy lay-off due to a stress fracture in his back, leaving Anthony Martial and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood as his only striking options.

"We need more goalscorers, we need more goals. That's a definite," said the United manager.

"I need someone who wants to break their nose to score a goal, or their toe. It doesn't have to be the nice ones. We know that."

While United - who sit fifth in the Premier League, six points outside the top four - are running out of time to bring in another forward, Solskjaer is determined to get more goals out of the players already at his disposal.

"I'm challenging them and I need to challenge them more because we can't just score nice goals," he added.

"We're going to get there, no doubt, because these players want to learn. They've improved so much."

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford is staying positive as he aims for a safe return from a back injury, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Rashford is set to miss at least six weeks after suffering a stress fracture in his back in United's FA Cup victory over Wolves on Wednesday.

His injury leaves United without their leading scorer and attacking talisman, with Rashford having netted 19 goals across all competitions so far this season.

Asked to provide an update on Rashford ahead of United's encounter with Burnley, Solskjaer said the 22-year-old is in good spirits, though could put no definitive timescale on his return.

"He won't be fit for this game, for sure. He'll be out for a while, he'll get the time he needs to recover," Solskjaer told a news conference.

"Marcus is good, he's a positive guy and he knows this is not what he wanted but he's always positive.

"He wants to get back as quickly as possible but as safely as possible, so we'll give him that time and when he feels ready and medically we've cleared him, he'll be back."

Reports had suggested Rashford had been playing through the pain of a single stress fracture for some time prior to aggravating the issue in the match against Wolves, but Solskjaer insisted the England forward was not carrying an injury. 

"It's not one he's had before, no," Solskjaer said. "He complained a little bit after the last time we played Burnley. 

"We managed it as well as we could. He had some days off with treatment, we took him off when we could, he didn't start every game and then suddenly this was a new injury, so he didn't have any injuries before then."

United academy players D'Mani Mellor and Largie Ramazani have been tipped as possible replacements for Rashford, though Solskjaer suggested it was not the right time for the youngsters to come in.

Instead, Mason Greenwood looks set to continue his development, while Solskjaer hinted United may look to bring in a player this month.

"Of course, we're always looking at improving the squad and seeing if there's anything out there, but nothing that I can talk about now," he said.

"It might be too soon for [Mellor and Ramazani] yet. Of course, Mason is going to get more chances now. Juan [Mata] will have to step up again, so there'll be more chances for the ones we have in the squad.

"We know we're stretched with numbers and the injuries we've had, but we'll cope with that."

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard says he did not insist on a one-to-one conversation with Kepa Arrizabalaga after his latest error and still has faith in the Spain goalkeeper.

The Blues succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday thanks to Isaac Hayden's winner deep into stoppage time.

Questions were once again asked of Kepa, as Hayden got a slight touch on Allan Saint-Maximin's delivery and, although it still appeared to be in the goalkeeper's path, he failed to react quickly enough to keep it out.

It was by no means the first mistake Kepa has made since joining from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 – he also struggled in a similar situation against Ajax this season in the Champions League.

Lampard is keen not to pile the pressure on the 25-year-old, however.

"I'll always defend the players and I think if there are individual errors, then players are the ones who stand and hold their hands up," Lampard told reporters on Monday ahead of Tuesday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

"I think goalkeepers should be as well, it's quite an isolated, difficult job and the spotlight is really on individually. He's made good saves for us this season and at times he'll have wanted to do better, because he's still relatively young as a goalkeeper and wants to improve, as he should do. He can improve just like all the team can improve.

"I didn't have a direct conversation with him. I'm sensitive to the fact that goalkeepers are under the microscope and that can be tough, but if it's not going for you, like a striker, you have to just work hard and keep your head down and be humble about how you work.

"That's how I push everyone to work. He's a good goalkeeper, we know that. He's saved us points and then there's times when we look and go, 'is it an individual error or a team error?'

"And sometimes the goalkeeper takes the brunt if we haven't defended right as a team. I don't want to dwell on it. If it's not right, we need to make it better."

Lampard also jumped to the defence of his Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after it emerged Marcus Rashford is set to miss at least six weeks after aggravating a back problem.

The England international came on as a substitute against Wolves and was then forced off again as his injury developed into a double stress fracture, leading to criticism of Solskjaer for bringing him on even though he was involved in Juan Mata's winning goal.

"You can't criticise a manager for making a decision like that," Lampard said. "Rashford has been in incredible form, scored 19 goals and he's a huge factor in their team.

"Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but if you have a player who wants to play even with issues, then you have to make a decision.

"I've heard managers get slated when they turn away from the FA Cup and play a second-string team and now I hear him getting slated for bringing on one of their best players to try and win a game in the cup, so you can't have it both ways."

Having already lost key midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay to serious injuries, Manchester United now face the prospect of being without top scorer Marcus Rashford for the most important part of the season.

The England international aggravated a back injury during a second-half cameo against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay victory, and after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer downplayed United's worries, it was later confirmed to be much more serious than first thought.

Reports began to emerge during United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool that Rashford had actually been playing through the pain and Solskjaer confirmed he suffered a double stress fracture against Wolves, meaning he could potentially be out for three months.

As such, Solskjaer acknowledged United might be forced into seeking "short-term" solutions in the transfer market, with Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial their only recognisable forwards.

Below, we highlight some potential options.

Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund)

Spain international Alcacer has had a peculiar time at Dortmund. He managed to score 18 times in the Bundesliga last season even though he only started 11 matches, while he has five top-flight goals this term despite only six of his 11 appearances coming as a starter. While he is a completely different type of forward to Rashford, he does represent a kind of attacker United simply do not have, in that he is a poacher. Following the arrival of Erling Haaland – apparently a target of Solskjaer's before he joined BVB – Alcacer might be attainable.

Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)

After falling out of favour at PSG, Uruguay striker Cavani has asked to leave before his contract expires at the end of the season, with Atletico Madrid and others said to be interested. A proven goalscorer and immensely experienced, Cavani would certainly provide United with a focal point they can aim for and play off – though his wages are not insignificant and he might not be entirely suited to counter-attacking football.

Mariano Diaz (Real Madrid)

Since returning to Madrid in 2018, Mariano has had a difficult time of it. Niggling injuries have impacted his availability and he has unsurprisingly struggled to make a telling contribution as a result. He is yet to feature in LaLiga this term, having fallen well down the pecking order – but that is not to say Mariano is a poor player. Quick, technically good and certainly capable of finding the net, he is perhaps rather more suited to United's style of play than Alcacer or Cavani.

Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Guoan)

In 2018, Bakambu cost Beijing Guoan €40million, the release fee in his contract with previous club Villarreal. The DR Congo striker had enjoyed a solid three-year spell at the Yellow Submarine, with his combination of athleticism, ability on the ball and finishing making him standout as a potential target for bigger clubs. He has continued to score on a regular basis in China and is starting to attract interest from Europe again, with Arsenal and Atletico Madrid apparently keeping tabs on him. United could do a lot worse than the former France youth international.

Promote from the academy

Solskjaer certainly can't be accused of neglecting the young talents coming through at the club. If he was to promote from within, rather than dip into the transfer market, D'Mani Mellor and Largie Ramazani would likely be the two frontrunners. Mellor is a 19-year-old forward who likes to drop deep and engage in sharp link-up play with his back to goal, while he is also a capable dribbler. Ramazani, 18, often operates a little more from wider positions, but the Belgium youth international has impressed for United's Under-23s this term with nine goals in 13 league appearances. Excellent on the ball and a possessor of explosive pace, Ramazani certainly seems to fit the mould Solskjaer likes his forwards to be.

Marcus Rashford has suffered a double stress fracture in his back and faces at least six weeks out, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed.

England international Rashford hobbled out of the midweek FA Cup win against Wolves, having come on as a substitute.

Solskjaer revealed after the match his striker had already been dealing with a back problem, although he was initially hopeful Rashford would play against Liverpool on Sunday.

Rashford missed the 2-0 defeat and is now facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, dealing a blow to both fifth-placed United, as their topscorer, and England ahead of Euro 2020.

"He's suffered a bad injury," Solskjaer told Sky Sports after the loss at Anfield.

"It's a stress fracture that happened against Wolverhampton, and it's not something that has happened before. It was there and then.

"It's unlucky for Marcus. He'll be out for a while for us. He won't be back until after the mid-season break [in mid-February].

"I don't know how long it is - I'm not a doctor - but normally a stress fracture is six weeks to heal and then he needs some rehab after that probably."

Solskjaer acknowledged United may now have to consider a loan move to bring in cover for Rashford, who has 14 Premier League goals to his name.

"We've had many, many injuries for big players for us this season," he said.

"Now Marcus, Anthony [Martial] has been out for months, Paul [Pogba] has been out for more than half the season, Scott [McTominay] has been out for months. It's just an unfortunate situation we're in.

"Because the window is open, we might look at some short-term deals as well. That could take us through until the summer.

"Desperately [need a signing]? Not desperately. Of course, we're looking at numbers as well. We've had many injuries.

"If the right one's there and it fits for us, we can buy. If there's loans available, it might be possible. But I've got players here as well who are chomping at the bit."

Marcus Rashford could be out of action for much of the next month with the back injury he sustained against Wolves, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The striker was absent from the squad for Sunday's Premier League trip to Liverpool after failing to recover from the problem that forced him off during the 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay at Old Trafford.

There were some suggestions the injury was more serious than first feared, although Solskjaer insisted this week the club would do everything to help Rashford be ready for the match at Anfield.

However, speaking prior to the game, Solskjaer revealed United are likely to be without their leading goalscorer until after their mid-season break in February.

"He got a couple of knocks again, jolts when he came on against Wolverhampton, and he's aggravated his back," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"He's had some trouble before. We're going to give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

"He's always recovered quickly before, so let's hope he does that again.

"I wouldn't expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We've got a mid-season break, but I'm not sure we're going to see him before then."

After the meeting with Liverpool, United host Burnley in the league on Wednesday before an FA Cup trip to either Watford or Tranmere Rovers next Sunday.

They then face Manchester City away in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, trailing 3-1 from the first game at Old Trafford.

United face Wolves at home on February 1 and then expect to have 16 days off before heading to Chelsea, with the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Club Brugge taking place three days later.

Marcus Rashford is not in the squad for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward misses Sunday's game after failing to recover from a back problem suffered after he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup third-round replay defeat of Wolves.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Andreas Pereira as United's attacking players in what appears to be a similar setup to the 3-5-2 with which they started the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford in October.

There are suggestions Luke Shaw will join Victor Lindelof and new club captain Harry Maguire in a back three, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams as wing-backs, while Eric Bailly is fit enough only for the bench following his comeback from a serious knee injury.

Liverpool are unchanged from the 1-0 win at Tottenham, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum for Jurgen Klopp's side.

The Reds start the game 13 points clear at the top of the table, with two games in hand over nearest rivals Manchester City.

United are fifth, five points outside the top four and a huge 27 adrift of the league leaders.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood take up the mantle of Manchester United's last ruthless front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.

One of United's finest modern forward lines led Alex Ferguson's side to two league titles, an EFL Cup, the Club World Cup and back-to-back Champions League finals, one of which they won, between 2007 and 2009.

Ronaldo and Tevez left for Real Madrid and Manchester City respectively that year and United have struggled since to form a similarly effective trident in attack.

However, there are encouraging signs around Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, who have scored more goals combined in all competitions this season than Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Solskjaer thinks it will take time to match the understanding of the Premier League leaders' attacking players but, ahead of Sunday's trip to Anfield, he believes in the potential of his forwards.

"The front three that they've got have been playing together for ages, not ages, but for seasons now," he said. "You can see the rotations, movements, the understanding between them, and we hope that our three get that understanding. I've probably only started them once together, the Newcastle United game, so we've got a way to go to get to the level of the three [at Liverpool], the understanding and consistency they have. But we scored four goals in that game [against Newcastle], so it's probably something I've got to look at more often.

"I believe in ours. We're going to add to them as well, definitely, but in the years to come I'm sure we'll see lots of them three. But Liverpool have scored more goals than us outside the front three so I'm not going to say ours are better than theirs or theirs are better than ours.

"We've got them on long contacts, developing into a very, very exciting front three. Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney were different, floating, but that's what we want as Man United supporters - you want to see them express themselves, go to places like Anfield and put fear into their defenders. But we've got Dan James as well, who adds to that, so I'm very excited about it."

Solskjaer agrees that United's goalscoring threat belies the insinuation made by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, after the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, that the Red Devils are overly defensive against their fierce rivals.

"I don't think it's an accusation. You take it as a compliment that they didn't create chances against us," Solskjaer said. "When the opposition manager is frustrated, that's a good sign for you as a manager. Of course, I think we've been closer to winning both those games, so I don't know what the problem has been."

Ashley Young is set to join Inter provided he passes a medical on Friday and Solskjaer confirmed there were no plans to sign a replacement full-back.

For now, the United boss is putting faith in young Brandon Williams to rise to the challenge of playing at Anfield.

"Does he look like I need to speak to him? I don't think so," Solskjaer replied when asked if Williams might need guidance ahead of a traditionally tempestuous match.

"He's been absolutely outstanding since he's come in. Every challenge we've put in front of him, he's tackled head on and he's only 19, had 10, 11 starts. He reminds me so much of the mentality of Gary Neville and I think he'll enjoy going to Anfield, put it that way."

There is continued speculation United are trying to finalise the signing of midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but Solskjaer would only say: "I can't tell you about any players that play for other teams. We're focusing on this game at the moment. That's my only concern."

With United's arrival expected to be greeted by Liverpool fans outside the ground, Solskjaer says he has no particular concerns about a hostile atmosphere.

"No safety fears, no," he said. "They want to try to intimidate us but as long as it's within the boundaries. I've been sat in a coach going into Europe or Anfield and whatever they shout and scream at you, you don't really notice.

"We need a very, very good performance to go there and win, but we beat Manchester City last month, we had the Paris Saint-Germain game – we need to get to the level of those performances definitely when you go away to a team that's top of the league.

"The last two performances we've had against Liverpool, we've played at Old Trafford twice, drawn twice and been closest to winning both those games, so we've got games to look back at that will give us lots of belief.

"if we perform to our best, we've got a chance to win."

With Liverpool looking likely to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, Solskjaer thinks such an unexpectedly long gap between league triumphs for their bitter rivals should serve as a warning to United.

"We're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen," he said when asked if he feared United, who last won the title in 2013, could experience a similar dry spell. 

"Let that be a lesson for us. They've been close a few times and we can't let ourselves for another 24 years without winning the league. I'm sure we won't. I believe in this club. We've started something that takes a little bit of time, but we'll get there."

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