With everyone’s attention on the return of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba and how the latter will combine with Bruno Fernandes in midfield, the biggest boost that Manchester United might have received for the season finale might just have slipped in unnoticed.
Few pundits have even predicted the presence of Mason Greenwood in tonight’s starting lineup against Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could now be ready to unleash his secret weapon.
To say that Solskjaer has used the 18-year-old sparingly so far this season is putting it mildly. Despite having scored 12 goals and provided four assists, Greenwood has only made 16 starts in all competitions – and only four in the Premier League.
It must have been tempting for the manager to select Greenwood more often but he has very much kept the Bradford-born starlet wrapped in cotton wool, easing him in to life as a Manchester United first team player. And rightly so: Mason was just a wiry 17 year-old at the start of the season and the Premier League is the most physically demanding in the world.
But with an extra three months of development behind the youngster and a reported extra 3KG of muscle on his frame, is Solskjaer now ready to take the shackles off and let him fly?
‘Mason is a young boy, he’s still 18 and this lockdown period has done him all the good in the world’ the Norwegian told the Manchester Evening News this week.
‘At his age, they do develop and fill out and Mason’s looking more and more like a man, so definitely it will help him.
‘Sometimes early on you could see he was a kid. Now in training he can use his strength better and he has done really well over the three or four weeks we have been training now.
‘And his quality in front of goal has always been there and now he has muscle to push defenders away.
‘I am not sure it was deliberate but the fitness coaches have worked really well with him. He has got the rest and recovery period after for him what must have been an intense first full season with the first team. He is looking good.
‘I am looking forward to seeing more of Mason, he will score more goals. He has filled out over the lockdown period and his performances in training have been great as well.
‘So I am sure he will have an impact on the rest of the season.’
Greenwood has already set some incredibly impressive records this season. He leads the entire Premier League in terms of percentage of shots on target and has achieved more in terms of goals and assists than Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi had at the same age.
If Solskjaer decides to line up with a front three for tonight’s game then his comments suggest that Greenwood will be selected for the right wing slot ahead of the likes of Dan James and Juan Mata. And with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba providing the forward passes, Solskjaer’s secret weapon may not stay a secret for much longer.
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