Solskjaer hints he’s ready to name new first-choice Man Utd centre-back pair

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted he is ready to turn to Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire as Manchester United's first-choice central defensive pairing.

Victor Lindelof's culpability for the goals in United's 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend – their heaviest opening day defeat for 25 years – has left him vulnerable to the axe.

Bailly, whose United career has been blighted by injury and an inability to stay fit, partnered skipper Maguire in Tuesday's 3-0 EFL Cup win away to Luton.

The pair started together on six occasions last season, conceding just twice, with Solskjaer enthusing about their potential long-term partnership, which could be bad news for Lindelof.

Although Lindelof partnered Maguire for most of last season while Bailly was sidelined, doubts about his long-term reliability resurfaced with his error-strewn display against Palace.

Bailly is fit again after being restricted to just 11 appearances in all competitions last season, with Solskjaer hinting he could partner Maguire today when United go to Brighton.

“Last weekend wasn't fantastic,” said Solskjaer. “We conceded sloppy goals.

“But Eric is fit again, which is a big, big plus, and we're looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games.

“We've been waiting for him to be fit and play more regularly.”

When last season resumed after the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Solskjaer settled on a line-up that rarely changed, a situation he is looking to repeat this term.

“When you find a team that gels together, it’s easier to keep that team for a while,” said Solskjaer.

“We saw after the restart, I can’t remember how many times we started with the same 11, but that was the team that found their feet and form.

“I'm not going to take anything away from any individual to stake a claim and be a regular.

“It could be a partnership of any two strikers, any two midfielders, any two centre-backs or wingers, but we need to get some consistency in their performances.”

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