Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Talks Harry Maguire Injury Worry Ahead of Manchester Derby

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2020

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Harry Maguire of Manchester United during the FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at Molineux on January 4, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Harry Maguire's injury status is unknown ahead of Manchester United's facing neighbours Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

Maguire appeared to have a problem during United's 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. The centre-back still completed 90 minutes at Molineux, but United chief Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sounded uncertain about Maguire's availability for midweek duty at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer spoke to BT Sport (h/t Richard Fay of the Manchester Evening News): "I don't know. We were close to taking him off at half-time, but he battled through, and let's see how he recovers. We hope so."

Maguire's performance against Wolves was one of his best during what has been an otherwise trying period for the world's most expensive defender in recent weeks. The 26-year-old stayed composed despite the lack of protection from United's midfield:

Maguire's assurance was a major reason why the tie was the only one of 20 on the day to end without a goal.

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Not having Maguire available for the first leg against City would obviously rate as a blow, though Solskjaer has options. Phil Jones was fit enough to be on the bench versus Wolves, while Eric Bailly recently returned to full training after being out since the club's preseason tour, per another report from Fay.

Bailly and Jones can be commanding in the air, but the pair may struggle against City's pace on the deck. Maguire would be expected to handle the Citizens' threat, even though he struggled during the 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal on New Year's Day.

Maguire was awarded a rating of just three out of 10 by Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News. Luckhurst said the former Leicester City man gave away "imbecilic fouls."

It's not what the Red Devils expected when they paid the Foxes £85 million to acquire the England international last summer. Yet Maguire has sometimes struggled under the weight of the price tag and the burden of being United's talisman at the back.

Fortunately for Solskjaer, Victor Lindelof has made strides alongside Maguire. He was outstanding against Wolves:

Lindelof's development, along with the fitness of Jones and Bailly, is timely for a United side facing a fixture congestion. A replay will be needed to settle the tie against Wolves, and it will likely take place this month despite Premier League fixtures versus Norwich City, Liverpool and Burnley in between both legs against City.