Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful that Odion Ighalo can make a quick impact at Manchester United despite having not trained with the squad since his arrival last month.
The Nigerian international arrived to boost Solskjaer’s attacking options during the January transfer window, joining on a loan deal until the end of the season from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.
Ighalo did not travel on Manchester United‘s mid-season break to Marbella and is yet to train with his new teammates, though the forward is due to travel with the squad for Monday night’s crucial meeting against top-four rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Solskjaer would not reveal whether the 30-year-old will be included in the Red Devils squad for their clash in west London, but refused to rule out the possibility of Ighalo making his debut against Frank Lampard’s side.
“I never said he was gonna be ready to play on Monday,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference. “He’ll be involved with us and travel down with us. Now he’s out of that two week period, precaution and just a precaution we made and let’s see if he’s involved or not.
“We’ve kept in touch with him and of course we’ve done our own programme, he’s done his, and it was always going to be a case of him having to integrate having been out in China and needs to get used to the players, the team, up to speed as quick as he can.
“He’s been working really hard, pinching himself at times at his favourite club at the age of 30 but he’s earned that one and hopefully he impresses us so we can see him play.”
Odion Ighalo has been banned from Manchester United’s training ground due to fears of coronavirus, according to the Mirror ❌ pic.twitter.com/XF9yPBCAzJ
— Goal (@goal) February 13, 2020
United secured the services of the former Watford striker after seeing their attacking options depleted by the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford, the England international currently recovering from a double stress fracture in his back.
Solskjaer admits the club were in need of experienced options to help solve their lack of goal threat in recent fixtures, and says Ighalo will be a welcome addition to his squad over the remainder of the season.
“With the injury Marcus Rashford, it has to be said, we needed another forward,” Solskjaer said.
“When we got the chance to get Odion on a loan that was for us a goalscorer, the top scorer at the African Cup of Nations last year, he can help the club.
“He is a very professional player, a good lad and will give something to the group.”
United head into the fixture having failed to score in any of their past three Premier League fixtures, and Solskjaer is hopeful Ighalo can make an immediate impact, referencing his own quick start to life at Old Trafford after joining from Molde 24 years ago
“Well, it didn’t take me too long,” Solskjaer said, recalling his goal six minutes into his Manchester United debut back in 1996. “I didn’t have a training session to come on.
“As a striker, you get thrown on out there and it might be he’ll have to come off the bench give us a goal and he does whatever he does.”