Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo is looking forward to seizing his chance if called to action when Manchester United visit Newcastle United for a Premier League match-up at the St. James’ Park on Saturday.
The Red Devils’ number 25 could be set for his first league start for his side at the weekend encounter as other strikers Anthony Martial and new signing Edison Cavani are unavailable.
Martial will start serving his three-match suspension with his absence from the Newcastle clash after getting a straight red card for violent conduct at the humiliating 6-1 loss to Tottenham earlier in October. Cavani will likewise not be dressed for the game as he is currently being forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19 guidelines following his arrival from France.
Ighalo, who is yet to see more than 18 minutes of Premier League action in a single game since his loan signing in January, has now been served a rare opportunity to lead the attack for the Ole Solskjaer’s men when they go head-to-head with the Magpies.
“I’m always ready,” the 31-year-old striker told Man United’s official website.
“Whenever the gaffer calls me, my idea is just to give my best in training, work hard and wait for my opportunity – to take it.
“Hopefully, I’ll just keep my head down, keep working hard every day. Come to the training ground every day and give it my best. Whenever the gaffer needs me, I will come and give my best.”
Ighalo had a quite successful spell in his first six months at United as he lived up to expectations with the few starts he was handed in cup competitions, registering five goals and an assist before the end of the 2019/20 campaign. His decent outing made his loan extension by a further six months somewahat justifiable.
But for someone who took such a huge paycut (from his £200k per week wage in China) of close to 40% to sign for Red Devils – an analogy is hitting jackpot 20 times within a week when you play casino online and just dashing it out, things haven’t really looked up for Ighalo in most recent times at the Old Trafford outfits.
He’s only managed one goal in the 12 games he has appeared since football restarted last season amid the coronavirus crisis. His recent struggle in front of goal has also diminished Solksjaer’s trust in him as he’s had to take up bench roles more frequently, even in cup competitions. Even worse, he wasn’t named in the matchday 18-man squad for their last two league games. But things are set to change come Saturday.
Having won all three of their away games so far this season, the Reds will hope to carry that form along in their trip to Newcastle and a refreshed Ighalo, who didn’t have to endure the hustle and bustle of international duty, is hoping to cause the Magpies defenders troubles on Saturday.
“We are working hard and looking forward to it,” the ex-Nigeria international added.
“We’ve been training hard. Those of us who did not go to the international teams have been working seriously hard.
“Everyone is in top shape and, when those who have been in the international teams are all back, I think we are in good heart to win the game. I know we didn’t start the season well so we’ll try to start from this weekend and try to win the game to kick the season off.”