(Reuters) – Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Fred and Andreas Pereira to bring energy and creativity to his team’s midfield in the absence of the injured Paul Pogba.
France World Cup winner Pogba, who has missed eight of United’s last 10 matches, is expected to remain on the sidelines until December due to an ankle problem.
Pereira has featured in the last seven Premier League matches and showed signs of building a fluid midfield partnership with fellow Brazilian Fred and Scott McTominay as United beat Norwich City 3-1 on Sunday.
“I think his energy and drive – the two Brazilians to be fair, Fred and Andreas – they are going to be important for us,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of United’s League Cup clash against Chelsea on Wednesday.
“Fred will probably take Paul’s position for a while now and that’s been brilliant for us. But Andreas has grown in the last few games. His energy and running, chasing, he is a different sort of 10.
“There is no use talking about who is not going to be here for a long, long time… Paul’s been brilliant and he is a creative midfielder that we need, but then it is up to the others to step up.”
United were ruthless in a 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season but Solskjaer does not expect a similar scoreline at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are on a seven-game winning run in all competitions, with youngsters Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori cementing their first-team positions after spending last season on loan.
“It is a very exciting team,” said Solskjaer. “Frank has got players that have been on loan for one or two seasons in the Championship.
“The difference between my youngsters is that they are almost stepping right now onto the scene.”
United youngsters Brandon Williams and James Garner could make their first domestic starts against Chelsea after playing in the last two Europa League matches.
“We have not made a decision on who is going to play, but you will probably see the two of them,” Solskjaer added.
“Character will be revealed in tough times, but I think they have done excellent, the young kids… I couldn’t be any more happy with many of the youngsters.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)