Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Odion Ighalo will be in the squad that travels to Chelsea on Monday, suggesting that the January signing could make his club debut.
Ighalo joined United on a deadline-day loan transfer from Shanghai Shenhua, but he failed to join his new teammates for warm-weather training in Marbella, Spain, in relation to fears his recent proximity with the coronavirus in China could see him restricted from returning to England.
The 30-year-old has nonetheless undertaken individual training back in Manchester, and Solskjaer told ManUtd.com he’ll be a part of the contingent that travels to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Week 26:
“Yeah, he is going to travel with us. We will just see his fitness work this week and I think we will get him sharp. We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us.”
United forward Marcus Rashford is currently out due to a back injury, leaving Solskjaer short of options up front. Anthony Martial can play centrally while 18-year-old Mason Greenwood is another alternative, but it seems experience was a crucial factor in Ighalo's recruitment.
He previously spent two years at Watford, and upon leaving for China in 2017, joined second-tier Changchun Yatai, followed by a move to Shanghai in 2019.
The ex-Nigeria international netted 10 goals in 19 appearances for Shenhua during the 2019 season and was enjoying the Chinese Super League off-season when United registered interest.
Ighalo scored for Watford in a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park when he made his first Premier League debut, hoping to repeat history by bagging in his first appearance for the club he’s supported all his life.