Odion Ighalo could be set for an extended run in Manchester United’s first team after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that first-choice striker Anthony Martial has picked up yet another muscle injury.
Martial was a last-minute absentee from the United team that mauled Club Brugge 5-0 in the Europa League last-32 return leg tie at Old Trafford.
United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the French international, who has scored in his last three games felt a muscle injury in the final training session before the return at Old Trafford.
Nigerian striker Ighalo was handed his first start in the absence of Martial and the 30-year-old marked the occasion with his first goal for the club he has supported all his life.
Prior to Thursday’s start, Ighalo’s three previous appearances have been as a substitute but he could reprise his starting role once more when the Red Devils travel to Goodison Park for Sunday’s date with Everton with Solskjaer unsure of how long Martial will stay on the sidelines.
“He didn’t feel right during the training [on Wednesday], or he walked off during the training, and he is injured so hopefully it won’t be too bad,” Solskjaer told the club’s official television channel about Martial’s injury.
“But I don’t really know yet how long it will be.”
Martial, 24, missed over seven weeks of action due to a thigh strain towards the start of this season but has managed to score 15 goals in 31 games in all competitions.
Ighalo’s signing was meant to provide cover for precisely this sort of situation with United still missing striker Marcus Rashford and record signing midfielder Paul Pogba.
The foresight to snap the Nigerian in a last-minute loan deal appears heaven-sent and could yield further rewards should Ighalo continue his form in front of goal against the Toffees who could also have fellow Nigerian Alex Iwobi on parade on Sunday.
United have won their last two Premier League games and are fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but trail runaway leaders Liverpool by 38 points after 27 games.