“He’s done his knee ligaments probably,” Solskjaer said of Scott McTominay after the Scot was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s 4-1 win against Newcastle United. “I don’t know how bad.”

With a gap of just two days before United’s next game, Solskjaer needs to find a quick solution to a serious issue. McTominay has played 21 times in all competitions for United this season. He’s a key player and the first name on the teamsheet.

Having left on crutches, McTominay seems unlikely to make the short trip to Burnley on Saturday.

McTominay a major doubt for Burnley after ligament injury

“The boy has got the biggest heart and we’ve seen him heal quickly before but I am not sure if he is going to be ready for Saturday,” Solskjaer said.

If United are to avoid destabilising their midfield, they’ve got to deal with McTominay’s injury well. Solskjaer will be thankful that Paul Pogba has returned now. He could start against Burnley after coming off the bench in games against Watford and Newcastle.


But the key point is that, when McTominay was ruled out in late November, United struggled. They drew at Sheffield United and at home to Aston Villa. Fred and Andreas Pereira looked as if their United careers wouldn’t last longer than the season. Since McTominay’s returned, Fred has been more composed and more effective. He’s got a future.

Garner must start ahead of Matic to keep United’s midfield stable

To maintain Fred’s good form, Solskjaer has got to bring Pogba back in. But a midfield pair of those two isn’t solid enough to start in the Premier League. It’s been seen before. Pogba should start in the number 10 role. Behind him, Fred should be partnered with James Garner.

Nemanja Matic is clearly the more experienced player. But he’s not United’s future. It’s likely that he’ll leave the club in the January transfer window. Playing him at Turf Moor will do no good for United.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Scott McTominay of Manchester United warms up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on December 26, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Garner, instead, has impressed in a number of first-team appearances this season. He’s the right player to start alongside Fred and can give the defence some protection. Matic can do that, but only with the speed of a spluttering farm tractor.

Brave decisions are necessary to avoid humiliation

It’s the kind of brave call that has appeased United fans who are concerned about certain elements of Solskjaer’s management.

Playing a teenager away at Turf Moor is a tough call to make. But, though the Boxing Day win against Newcastle was excellent, this is the kind of game where predictable decisions will cost you points.

United have often been atrocious in games they are expected to win. Solskjaer has to put his faith in the players who are the future of the club. Garner is one of those. So is Mason Greenwood, and he repaid that faith with a goal on Thursday.

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