Ralf hopes for defensive boost
Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has reported that his defence will be bolstered when we play Wolves at Old Trafford next Monday in our first game of 2022.
The German is expecting to have Victor Lindelof available for selection for the visit of the Molineux side and Raphael Varane is also set to be up to speed and available for a potential start again.
Sweden international Lindelof hasn’t played for the Reds since being forced to come off in the second half of our 1-0 win at Norwich City on December 11 with breathing difficulties.
He recovered well from that episode but has since tested positive for COVID-19 and has had to isolate and miss our post-Christmas games at Newcastle United and against Burnley at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Rangnick believes Lindelof will be in contention for Monday’s new year Bank Holiday match against Wolves.
“I hope that Victor could be back by then,” he said in his press conference.
“Under normal circumstances, if the next test is negative, the PCR test is negative, he should be able to come back for this game.
“He has no symptoms so he should have no physical problems for that game.”
Varane will also be back under consideration for the Wolves match as a starter. The France centre-back returned to action for the Reds against Newcastle at St James’ Park in the 1-1 draw last Monday night and lasted 90 minutes following his absence with a thigh injury after coming off against Atalanta in the Champions League at the beginning of November.
Varane subsequently only made the bench against Burnley before coming on for Eric Bailly after 65 minutes. However, Rangnick says it was simply a precaution after the recent lay-off.
United 3 Burnley 1: Rangnick's press conference
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“I was thinking of playing him [Varane] but the last time that happened after this muscle injury, he was then out for another couple of weeks, so we didn’t want to make the same mistake again. So that is why he was on the bench,” said our interim boss.
Rangnick also had praise for Bailly, who came into the XI against the Clarets having been called back from duty for Ivory Coast as he prepared for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on 9 January in Cameroon.
“Eric had already left four days ago [before the Burnley match] for the Africa Cup of Nations but he was still in Spain and we asked him to come back,” said the German.
“He did well apart from the mistake for the goal we conceded, it was a very good performance from Eric. He was focused.”
Phil Jones could also add to the numbers in defence, having been on the bench for the Reds at Newcastle.