MANCHESTER — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has snubbed reports suggesting that he will replace Antonio Valencia as the captain of Manchester United by confirming that the Ecuadorian will lead out the team again as soon as he’s fully fit.
Valencia slipped down the pecking order after liking an Instagram post in October which called for then manager Jose Mourinho to be sacked by the Manchester United board.
The experienced right-back was then dropped from the starting XI after Mourinho suggested that he wasn’t fit enough, but returned on 12 December in an away Champions League defeat a Valencia.
He was an unused substitute in the defeat to Liverpool on Dec. 16 in what turned out to be the last game in charge for Mourinho, and also missed the first two games of Solskjaer’s interim tenure.
Valencia is the longest-serving active player in the Manchester United squad, having signed during the Sir Alex Ferguson tenure in 2009 and there were suggestions that the 33-year-old was on his way out of the club.
However, the Solskjaer confirmed that the skipper is working hard on his fitness and wants to be available to lead the team again in the New Year fixtures.
When asked if he could appoint a new captain, Solskjaer declared at his press conference on Friday: “I told you he’s the captain and, when he’s properly fit and playing, he’ll wear the armband.
“He’s going through a couple of tough sessions now to get him ready for the busy period coming up.
“When you look at Antonio, there are not many better right-backs going forward with his abilities so, yes, you’ll see him wearing his armband,” the Norwegian added.
Manchester United are in action again on Sunday against Bournemouth at Old Trafford when Solskjaer seeks his third successive win since replacing Mourinho in the dugout as temporary boss.