Is it worth risking Harry Maguire against Manchester City?

Harry Maguire was limping around for much of Manchester United’s 0-0 FA Cup third round draw against Wolves on Saturday but made it through the 90 minutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told after the game: “It is a bit early yet [with Maguire]. We are going to give him as much time as possible. He was hobbling about yesterday but there are still 36 hours to go, so we will just wait with all of them.

“It is not a time to go out on the pitch and do lots of work anyway. We are going to do meetings and recovery work.”

So is it worth risking Maguire in the EFL Cup semi-final clash against Manchester City given he has already played through the pain barrier?

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Lack of alternatives

Manchester City’s season has essentially been derailed by an injury to one central defender, Aymeric Laporte.

Plenty of column inches have been devoted to that as if it is some kind of excuse for a multi-million pound squad.

Meanwhile, United have Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo ruled out with injury, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah – a possible left-field pick – still not fit enough.

Perhaps the reason Solskjaer kept a visibly injured Maguire on the pitch at Molineux was the fact Phil Jones was the only alternative on the bench.

Last time he was thrown into action, at Sheffield United, Jones was absolutely horrific and he is Solskjaer’s only realistic option to replace Maguire against the reigning champions.

That may well force Solskjaer’s hand.

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Long term impact?

The obvious risk is that £80 million manMaguire keeps playing through the pain and ends up being ruled out for an extended period of time.

Maguire may also have one eye on the European Championship in the summer and won’t want to go the same way as international team mate Harry Kane, whose extensive use has led to a hamstring problem.

Solskjaer should be conscious of that – he probably should have taken Maguire off on Saturday to do whatever he could to protect him for the City clash – and has a duty to manage his players properly.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.