sport news Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces defensive headache ahead of ...

sport news Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces defensive headache ahead of ...
sport news Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces defensive headache ahead of ...

A relatively kind fixture list was supposed to allow Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the chance to ease into this season.

But it hasn't quite turned out that way and now any sympathy from the schedule has well and truly vanished.

Before the end of November, Solskjaer's stuttering side have to play Leicester, Atalanta (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Daunting at the best of times, but more so in the absence of your two first-choice central defenders.

Raphael Varane went off during France's Nations League win over Spain with a thigh problem and is set to be sidelined 'for a few weeks', according to Manchester United

Raphael Varane went off during France's Nations League win over Spain with a thigh problem and is set to be sidelined 'for a few weeks', according to Manchester United

United skipper and first-choice centre-back Maguire was already sidelined with an ankle injury

It leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without his two best centre-backs ahead of a daunting schedule

United skipper and first-choice centre-back Maguire was already sidelined with an ankle injury, which leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without his two best centre-backs at a crucial stage

That's the headache potentially facing Solskjaer, however, after Raphael Varane limped out of France's win over Spain in the final of the UEFA Nations League on Sunday night.

The £43million summer arrival from Real Madrid will be out 'for a few weeks' with a groin problem, United confirmed on Tuesday.

Harry Maguire, meanwhile, is suffering from an ankle injury and missed United's two games against Villarreal and Everton prior to the internationals having hobbled off against Aston Villa.

Maguire, who also missed out on England duty this week, is understood to have taken part in some light training on Monday but looks like being touch and go for the visit to his old club Leicester on Saturday afternoon.

Not only do these problems deprive Maguire and Varane of opportunities to build their understanding of one another's games, but it leaves Solskjaer with a quandary over who should replace them.

The most likely partnership against Leicester will be Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly but this doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence.

Varane and Maguire had started to understand each other's games as United's No 1 pairing

Varane and Maguire had started to understand each other's games as United's No 1 pairing

Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly might have to fill in as United's central defensive pairing

Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly might have to fill in as United's central defensive pairing

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Saturday Leicester City (A)

October 20 Atalanta (H)

Champions League

October 24 Liverpool (H)

October 30 Tottenham (A)

November 2 Atalanta (A)

Champions League

November 6 Manchester City (H) 

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Due to Maguire's good fitness record, it hasn't been a pairing we've seen too often under Solskjaer - but on the last three occasions that we have, United have suffered defeat.

One came last month when United were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by West Ham. Before that, the Europa League final against Villarreal ended in penalty shoot-out heartbreak. A few days prior to

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