Victor Lindelof did not return for the second half of Manchester United’s match on Saturday against Bournemouth.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport after the win, quoted by the MEN: “He struggled with his back but hopefully won’t be too bad.”
United have four days until the next fixture, away at Aston Villa on Thursday night.
This is Lindelof’s second injury scare since the restart. He was taken off in the draw at Tottenham, again replaced by Eric Bailly.
He made a quick recovery, and was pictured in training the following Monday. We will be keeping a close eye to see if he is present in today’s session.
Bailly can cover
United have no reason to rush Lindelof back to face a side Villa which have struggled for goals since the restart.
The Villans have netted just two goals in five games, and lack a top central striker.
This is an ideal game to switch in Eric Bailly anyway, and it might backfire to risk Lindelof if he is not 100 per cent.
United play the following Monday too, so why risk Lindelof when Bailly needs game time anyway?
Worrying lack of cover
An injury to Axel Tuanzebe means he is out for the season. Lindelof’s back problem puts United now in a precarious spot.
If signing Lindelof was ruled out for even a month, then United would have just Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly as senior centre-back options.
Given Bailly’s own injury record, this would be a delicately poised situation at this stage of the season which could yet ruin United’s pursuit of trophies and targets.
Phil Jones is not expected back for a few weeks either, while Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling are out on loan.
This means untested yet highly rated star Teden Mengi could get the call. The 18-year-old has been training with the first team over the past few weeks.
Luke Shaw has also filled in at centre-back, although only as part of a back three. Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are emergency options United would rather not have to consider using.
Dishon Bernard, 20, could also be called up. He has been training individually over the past few weeks.
All of this adds up to make £31 million signing Lindelof very valuable to United right now.
This injury scare may just turn out to be nothing, but United cannot afford to take any chances.
It was the right call to take him off at half-time against Bournemouth as a precaution, and after a shaky first few minutes, Eric Bailly settled and had a comfortable afternoon.
Harry Maguire has looked a little shaky on occasion since the restart, being partly culpable for two of the three goals conceded.
United need improvement from him, while Bailly and Lindelof need to stay fit.
If none of them can do what is asked, then United may have to re-consider investing in the centre-back position in the summer, with Tuanzebe’s fitness making him increasingly unreliable.
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