Ralf weighs up defensive dilemma
Ralf Rangnick admits the return of Raphael Varane to full fitness gives him a tough decision to make in terms of selecting his central defensive partnership.
Varane was back in the side for Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, appearing at the heart of the defence with Harry Maguire.
United have lost just one game in which that pair has started together this season – September’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, when Maguire left the field injured with the score still goalless.
The interim manager is impressed by that record and he's happy to have Varane playing regularly again after his Covid-related absence.
But he also singled Victor Lindelof out for praise, after the Scandinavian came on to help the Reds protect our lead in the closing stages of the game at the weekend.
“Yes, it's very important but, with Victor Lindelof, we have also won quite a few games and played well and had quite a few clean sheets,” Rangnick told reporters at his pre-match press conference.
“Right now, we have top players for the centre of defence and it will not be so easy for me to take that decision for tomorrow.
“Also, when Victor came on in the last 10 to 15 minutes, he played well, but, as I said, it's good to have Rapha fully fit again and it's also good that we looked after him and he looked after himself, not playing too early again.
“Now he seems to be fit on a regular basis and can play for us regularly.”
Rangnick will also have to make big calls in other areas of the team, with Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes all returning to training on Monday following short spells on the sidelines - although there is still some doubt over Shaw's availability.
The German doesn’t see too much of a need to alter a winning line-up, but is happy to have a big squad to call upon, rather than having to factor in injury and illness as has been the case in recent weeks.
“Yeah, I have to make that decision [on Bruno's return] by tomorrow, so it's possible we have some new players in the starting XI but there is not that much reason to change too many players,” added Ralf.
“To start with, it's good to have everybody available, that's better than missing five or six players.”