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Edinson Cavani back available as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turns attention to Palace

Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
·4-min read

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani is in line to return at Crystal Palace as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men head back to London just days after the contentious draw with Chelsea.

The second-placed Red Devils now sit an eye-watering 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City following Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Solskjaer felt United were denied a clear first-half penalty when referee Stuart Attwell reviewed a handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi on the advice of the video assistant referee, only to opt against pointing to the spot.

Luke Shaw has avoided Football Association punishment for his post-match comments about Attwell, as did the United boss, who has quickly refocused on Wednesday’s trip to Selhurst Park.

Manchester United felt they should have had a penalty on Sunday
Manchester United felt they should have had a penalty on Sunday (Ian Walton/PA)

“That’s water under the bridge,” Solskjaer said. “You move onto the next one.

“We all know it’s a high-pressure situation and we just have to accept decisions when they’re made and we move on.

“All my focus after the game has just been on Palace. I’ve not looked back at all on that.”

Asked about players surrounding Attwell as he reviewed the pitchside monitor, the Norwegian said: “I think the refs have a difficult enough job without extra pressure.

Stuart Attwell decided against awarding a penalty after reviewing footage
Stuart Attwell decided against awarding a penalty after reviewing footage (Andy Rain/PA)

“We should just leave them to it, make as many good decisions as they can.”

Sunday’s draw means United have won just two of their last seven Premier League matches, seeing them slip off the top and well behind relentless neighbours City – a drop that Solskjaer insists pressure had nothing to do with.

“Not at all, that’s the Premier League,” Solskjaer said. “The pressure has not been there at all.

“Of course we enjoy being as close to the top as possible but that’s the Premier League for you.

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“That’s quality of the opposition, the quality of the tactics, the standards, the demands of the season.

“We’ve played I don’t how many games but we’re in the Europa League, we’re in the FA Cup, Premier League and it’s the strangest year of all for everyone. So, pressure? No. It’s just that’s the Premier League.”

Solskjaer’s side are set to be boosted by the return Cavani against Palace after the veteran striker’s four-game absence with a muscle complaint.

“We’ve had a training session this morning,” the United boss said. “Of course it was a light one.

Edinson Cavani has not played since the 1-1 draw at West Brom on February 14
Edinson Cavani has not played since the 1-1 draw at West Brom on February 14 (Michael Steele/PA)

“We’re looking OK. There’s a couple of doubts for (Wednesday) that we have to give as much time as possible.

“Edinson trained, he joined in so that’s good. Let’s hope there’s no reaction after the session. Hopefully he will travel with the squad.”

Juan Mata and Hannibal Mejbri remain absent for Wednesday’s match, as does Paul Pogba due to the thigh complaint sustained against Everton on February 6.

“Paul is still not ready for us,” Solskjaer said. “He’s feeling better.

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“He’s not been training with the team yet so he’s definitely not travelling down to London.”

While Pogba’s return to action edges closer, it is unclear when long-serving defender Phil Jones will next line up for United.

The 29-year-old has not played for the club since the FA Cup fourth-round win at Tranmere in January 2020 and underwent knee surgery over the summer.

Jones has now been added to the Premier League and Europa League squads, but Solskjaer – a man who knows a thing or two about knee injuries – is not sure when the England international will return.

Phil Jones' last appearance came 13 months ago against Tranmere
Phil Jones’ last appearance came 13 months ago against Tranmere (Simon Cooper/PA)

On the potential of Jones featuring this season, Solskjaer said: “With Phil, obviously we hope so but he’s working really hard.

“He’s had a couple of setbacks and it’s just that kind of injury that you have to be patient and give him time. I know all about knee injuries.

“I’m not sure (when he will be back). How long is a piece of rope? That’s how I felt as well when I came back.

“So (we’ll) give him absolutely every chance to get back this season. If not, hopefully for the start of next.”