By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
The England international’s disappointing start to the season continued against Crystal Palace, but he has received the backing of his manager
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Jesse Lingard’s poor start to the season, insisting his “energy” is important to the way Manchester United play.
Lingard, 26, struggled in the opening two games against Chelsea and Wolves and was hauled off after 56 minutes in Saturday’s dismal 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
The England international, who finished last season with five goals in all competitions, has not scored in the Premier League since Solskjaer’s first game in temporary charge against Cardiff City in December.
But the United boss is adamant that he will remain an integral part of his side, though 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who replaced him against Palace, is pushing for more playing time.
When asked if he was concerned by Lingard’s early season form, Solskjaer said: “No. We stick together.
“Jesse’s not scored any goals in the last three games, no, but he’s been a big part of our team and will continue being an important part.
“The energy he gives us is lively, but we felt Mason [Greenwood] had to come on and create something and we’ll see more of Mason.”
Alexis Sanchez was once again overlooked amid the possibility of a switch to Serie A side Inter.
Solskjaer concedes the Chile international might well leave Old Trafford but is prepared to use him if he stays.
“Alexis is a quality player and we don’t have loads of options,” he added.
“So, if there’s an offer good enough for the club and him, maybe he’ll go. If not, he’s still our player and he’s a quality player, no doubt. He’s been training well.”
Luke Shaw was replaced in the first half by Ashley Young after feeling tightness in his hamstring, although Solskjaer is hopeful he will be fit enough for the trip to Southampton next weekend.
“We will do the scans [Sunday] but he felt something in his hamstring,” the manager said. “Hopefully he won’t be too bad and will be back for Southampton.”
United are in action again next Saturday when they visit Southampton at St Mary’s.