Solskjaer: Injury woes linked to increased intensity at United
Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted the club's renewed intensity and attacking style of play is behind their mounting injury list.
United are in the midst of an injury crisis after Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard suffered muscle problems in Sunday's goalless draw with Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic both missed the Old Trafford showdown through injury, while Marcus Rashford is also in doubt for Wednesday's trip to Crystal Palace due to an ankle issue.
Youth-team players Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner have been drafted into the squad ahead of the Selhurst Park clash, and Solskjaer conceded an increased workload has resulted in injuries.
"It's probably linked, yes," Solskjaer – who replaced Jose Mourinho in December – replied after being asked if the injuries were a result of greater intensity and pressing.
"When do you make that change, do you wait until pre-season and think you will change results by just not asking them to run, or do we start now and show them what the demands of intensity are and how we want to play?
"And, of course, you have seen what I have chosen. I have chosen that we need to play as a Man United team, and if you want to be a part of Man United, it's a survival of the fittest, isn't it?"
With Rashford struggling to prove his fitness, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are set to lead United's attack against Palace.
Lukaku – who admitted he put on too much muscle for Belgium's 2018 World Cup campaign – has only scored once in his last 10 appearances.
"We ask our forwards, strikers to work at a higher intensity, to run in behind, but that's what he likes, so I'm sure he'll be fine," Solskjaer said of Lukaku, who impressed on the wing against Liverpool. "Muscle is not so difficult to get rid of. He's lean, but he's muscly."
Last week's 0-0 draw with Liverpool left United in fifth position, a point adrift of Arsenal in the race for the fourth and final Champions League spot.
The visit of Southampton follows the Palace fixture, before a trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 and Arsenal on March 10.
United are also set to face Manchester City and Chelsea before the end of the season, and Solskjaer added: "It'll be exciting. Obviously, we've got Chelsea at home, we've got Arsenal away, and Tottenham and Chelsea play each other on Wednesday. There are going to be so many games that matter in the end, because I don't think there'll be many points between fourth, fifth and sixth places.
"The players will have a say on how we play for the rest of the season. We need to keep going, keep progressing, keep getting results, keep getting the crowd behind us, because we need that. We need to fight from now until the end of the season."