Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested Odion Ighalo will start on the bench for Manchester United at Chelsea on Monday night.
Ighalo, 30, joined United from Shanghai Shenhua on loan until the end of the season on deadline day but did not travel with the rest of the squad to their warm weather training camp in Marbella. United were concerned the Nigeria international could be denied re-entry to the United Kingdom over the Coronavirus outbreak in China.
The United squad only returned to Manchester on Friday and are due to have a rest day on Saturday before a final training session at their Carrington training complex on Sunday, when Ighalo could be introduced to his new teammates.
United are expected to travel to London on Sunday afternoon and Ighalo could make his debut off the bench at Stamford Bridge.
“I never said he was going to be ready to play on Monday,” Solskjaer said. “He’ll be involved with us and he’ll travel down with us. Now he’s out of that two-week period – a precaution we made. He’ll travel with us 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 to the group, anyway, having been out in China, and he needs to get used to the players and the team and up to speed as quick as he can.
“The injury Marcus Rashford, it has to be said, we needed another forward and when we got the chance to get Odion on a loan that was, for us, a goalscorer, top scorer Africa Cup of Nations last year. We thought, yeah, he can help the club. He’s a very professional player, a good lad and will give something to the group.”
Solskjaer emerged off the bench on his United debut to equalise against Blackburn Rovers in 1996 and downplayed concerns over Ighalo’s lack of training time with the rest of the squad.
“I didn’t have to have a training session to come on and do something,” Solskjaer added. “As a striker, you get thrown on and do what you can. And it might be he’ll have to come off the bench and give us a goal and he does whatever he’s always done.”