Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he benched Bruno Fernandes because he was struggling with a “niggly” injury ahead of Manchester United’s trip to West Ham.
Fernandes has been a mainstay in the starting XI this season and contributed 10 goals and six assists in 16 appearances.
But the Portugal midfielder was only fit enough to be named among the substitutes for the trip to the London Stadium on Saturday evening.
He was sorely missed during the first half and introduced immediately after half-time with United trailing 1-0 thanks to Tomas Soucek’s opener.
Fernandes helped kickstart the Red Devils’ recovery, assisting Paul Pogba’s equaliser and creating countless other chances as Solskjaer’s side emerged 3-1 victors in east London.
a close up of a man: Fernandes was left out of the starting XI for a league game for the first time this season© Javier Garcia/BPI/REX/ShutterstockFernandes was left out of the starting XI for a league game for the first time this season
The United boss was delighted with the result but is left hoping Fernandes is able to start the next match – the vital trip to RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
“Brilliant response by all the players, I think the second half performance was really good against a good team,” the United boss told talkSPORT .
“If you look at the results they’ve had this season then you’ll see that second half was a brilliant performance.
a football player on a field: The Portuguese made a big impact once he was introduced after half-time© Manchester United via Getty Image The Portuguese made a big impact once he was introduced after half-time
“They’ve [Fernandes and Marcus Rashford] had niggly injuries. Bruno’s been kicked from pillar to post lately, he’s had a few knocks and I was hoping to rest him for longer.
“But at half-time we had to make changes because of injuries – Edinson [Cavani] had to come off with an [muscle] injury so to brighten up the team we decided to put the two of them on.”
United must avoid defeat to Leipzig in order to secure qualification to the Champions League last 16. Ahead of the trip to Germany, Solskjaer is also monitoring Anthony Martial, as the forward was forced off with an injury against West Ham.
In light of his side’s injury list, Solskjaer may choose to start Mason Greenwood against Leipzig after the teenager’s impressive display against the Irons drew lavish praise.