Solskjaer might have inadvertently revealed his two big Manchester United selection decisions vs Villarreal

Man Utd face Villarreal in the Europa League final in Gdansk and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has two big selection decisions to make. One of Ole Gu...

Man Utd face Villarreal in the Europa League final in Gdansk and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has two big selection decisions to make.


One of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's selection headaches ahead of the Europa League final became a little clearer in Gdansk last night, with Harry Maguire unable to train with his teammates just over 24 hours from the game.

That will rule Maguire out of facing Villarreal in Manchester United's first final in three years and while Solskjaer's starting XI for a game he admits will define United's season is fairly settled, there are still a couple of marginal calls to be made.

Speaking to the media inside Stadion Gdansk on Tuesday afternoon, just before his squad went through their final training session out on the pitch, Solskjaer said he will tell his players the team on Wednesday, but most of the starters will be secure in the knowledge they will be picked to face the La Liga side.

The two most marginal selection calls revolve around who starts in goal and who begins the game on the left wing. For six successive game David de Gea and Dean Henderson have rotated in and out of the side and if, as expected, De Gea starts in Poland it will make seven.

Further forward Mason Greenwood has finished the season in form and earned a slot in Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man squad for Euro 2020 yesterday, but Solskjaer has made no secret of his trust and faith in Marcus Rashford's abilities.

And the United boss may well have given the game away over both of those calls during yesterday's press conference for United's 61st and final game of a unique 2020/21 season.

“It’s always difficult to leave players out. A final is a reward for what you’ve done the whole season. If there’s a doubt between a couple it’s the form in the latter stages," he said.

While Henderson and Greenwood have probably enjoyed stronger finishes to the season, De Gea and Rashford have played a more integral part to the story of the season as a whole and that could be the determining factor in deciding who starts.

Henderson has emerged as the No. 1 in the Premier League since March - although that status is again up for debate - and he's started four knockout ties in the Europa League, just as De Gea has. But the Spaniard was magnificent in Rome in the second leg of the semi-final and has started 35 games in all competitions to Henderson's 25 this season.

It's been by no means a perfect season for United's four-time player of the season but he has improved on his previous two campaigns. When discussing his goalkeepers last week Solskjaer began by praising Henderson before moving on to De Gea with a flourish of "but David is David". His status at Old Trafford is hard to break.

Likewise with Rashford. On form Greenwood probably deserves to start in Gdansk, with eight goals in his last 13 games, but if Paul Pogba stars on the left and Edinson Cavani through the middle, that leaves only one attacking position available.

Greenwood is probably more naturally suited to the left, but Rashford's contribution to the campaign is hard to ignore, even if he hasn't always been at the top of his game. For the second season in a row he's passed the 20-goal mark in all competitions and his tally of 21 goals and 13 assists is bettered in both categories by only Bruno Fernandes, with 28 goals and 18 assists.

From a statistical point of view Rashford's case is concrete and he has a habit of producing when it really matters. He would certainly feel it to be an injustice if he was left out of United's biggest game of the season.

Solskjaer knows that those who miss out on selection will be angry with him, but he wants that anger channelled in the right direction. With five substitutes available there is every chance replacements will play a part and while the unfortunate goalkeeper might have to accept an evening sat watching from the bench, Greenwood will be an expected substitute if he does miss out to Rashford.

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