NEWS
Thursday April 29 2021
Solskjaer: 'Rashford is available'

Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly are available against Roma tonight.

The Norwegian coach gave an update on the squad ahead of the first leg in the Europa League semi-final against La Lupa and said his men ‘are ready’ for the challenge.

“There are so many games! They’re all fit and available,” Solskjaer told the club’s official website. “[We] didn’t lose anyone from the last game which was good. It was a hard-fought game of course against Leeds, high intensity.

“We’re ready and it’s good preparation for the rest of the season.”

It was feared England forward Rashford could miss out on the match against the Giallorossi, but Solskjaer confirmed both him and Bailly are ready to play at Old Trafford.

“Yep. Both of them are available. So that’s good.”

Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan get the chance to face their former club tonight.

“Hopefully they will enjoy coming back to Manchester,” the Norwegian continued. “Unfortunately, there are no fans at Old Trafford to greet them.

“We know about their qualities and we know about other players as well of course with good quality and some of them have played in the Premier League.

“They know us and in the last few weeks we’ve analysed Roma and got a clearer view on them.”

Solskjaer said he admired Smalling’s decision to move to the Italian capital and felt the former England international has been ‘unfortunate’ this term.

“Of course, last season he did really well and when a club you go to on loan want to sign you that says everything about you as a player and as a person in terms of what you’ve done there,” he said. “Unfortunately, this year he’s had a few injuries, but he’s back just in time for this one.”

Manchester United prepare for their fifth semi-final since Solskjaer took over and the former Cardiff coach hopes to use the previous defeats as ‘motivation’ to take the next step.

“We’re coming into this final stretch of the season in good form,” he continued. “We’ve really built momentum and of course those setbacks and disappointments in the semis are more used as a motivation this time.

“We know how it feels to be so close and this time we’re going to give everything. I know that about these players anyway, they always give us absolutely everything they’ve got.”

Last season Manchester United lost to Sevilla in the one-legged semi-final of the Europa League and the La Liga side went on to lift the trophy by beating Inter in the Final.

“I thought the performance was excellent and we were unlucky not to score goals,” he said. “Of course Roma as well went out against Sevilla, so I think both teams feel the disappointment.

“When you lose to the winners then you’re close. When it’s the last game of the season like it was last season it’s going to stick in your mind of course.

“We’ve used it as a point of reference that if we go further we’ve improved.”

There has of course been talk about the historic 7-1 win against Roma, when Solskjaer was still playing for the Red Devils.

“I remember the one away when [Paul] Scholes got sent off and we dug out a 2-1 decent away result because we scored.

“I remember the manager was very pleased with us. We stayed in Rome and went to see the Vatican after the game and he was in a very, very good mood because he felt confident in our ability to beat them.

“The 7-1 was one of the best nights you can experience. I came on for the last 20 to 25 minutes. Michael [Carrick] who’s with me here now scored some good goals that night.”

Manchester United have overcome Real Sociedad, Milan and Granada on their way to the semi-finals, and face another Serie A team tonight.

Solskjaer said ‘you have to beat good teams’ to win the Europa League and stressed it’s a big game for the Giallorossi too.

“When we had [Real] Sociedad we thought that was a tough game because they were flying in the league,” he said. “We did that really well away.”

“When you get Milan, a club with history and tradition and they were flying in the league. We managed to go through there.

“Granada have done really well in the last few seasons and it’s the same again with Roma – what a club, with history and tradition and they had a fantastic start to the season.

“They’ve had some injury problems and it’s a big game for them as well and a big game for us. If you want to win this tournament you have to beat good teams.”