The big games keep coming and it is becoming harder and harder for Manchester United to leave out key players.

Wolves away on Saturday is followed by Manchester City at home on Tuesday night.

One player in need of a break is Fred, who played every minute over the festive period and has featured for 90 minutes in United’s last 14 consecutive league games, a run stretching back to the start of October.

The £47 million man is still playing well. He touched the ball 115 times against Arsenal, more than any player on the pitch.

But if United keep rolling him out there without a rest, the Brazilian runs the risk of seeing both his form dip, and suffering an injury.


The problem is that there just are not many credible ways to rest Fred right now.

Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, James Garner and Dylan Levitt are all injured. United have a dearth of midfield options.

If United are going to win away at Wolves and at home to City, we can’t really afford to rest Fred.

(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

But if he suffers injury in one of these two matches, Solskjaer must take some responsibility, as should the board, for failing to sign midfielders in the summer.

He is key to United’s hopes, and with games against Liverpool and away at City upcoming, Fred will be needed.

There might be a chance to rest him at home to Norwich in the league on January 11.

Until then another superhuman effort from the midfielder will likely be required against Wolves and City over the next two games.

What can United try?

Solskjaer said this morning that Garner will feature for the under-23s on Monday, meaning he is not ready yet.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah could also feature in that game. But he’s not ready to face Wolves.

So United need other options. The most obvious would be to play Andreas Pereira in central midfield. Jesse Lingard would then go in attack, or Juan Mata.

But let’s be real. A midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira and Juan Mata/Jesse Lingard away at Wolves is unlikely to return a win.

Wildcard options include calling up youngster Ethan Galbraith, or one of Arnau Puigmal, Aliou Traore or Hannibal Mejbri even though they may not really be ready. But United could be bold and give them an opportunity.

This would probably be preferable than United’s most desperate play – selecting Phil Jones in midfield.

(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

With this lack of options, it is easy to see why United will probably end up picking Fred again at Molineux.

The Brazilian will give 100 per cent and gives United the best chance to win.

He just needs more help, and it is more essential than ever that United sign midfielders this month.

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