Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted Romelu Lukaku will not play in a “target man” role as long as he is in charge.
Lukaku endured a difficult first half of the season, struggling for form and fitness after claiming he had been negatively impacted by building up too much muscle during the World Cup.
The 25-year-old striker was granted compassionate leave over Christmas and, as such, is further behind than the majority of his team-mates with respect to match sharpness.
But, in Sunday’s 4-1 hammering of Bournemouth, Lukaku came on as a second-half substitute for the impressive Marcus Rashford and scored United’s final goal, beating Asmir Begovic after latching on to Paul Pogba’s pass.
It was the first time Lukaku had featured since former boss Jose Mourinho – with whom the Belgian was said to have a close bond – was replaced by Solskjaer, and the new man at the helm is excited by the prospect of the former Everton man being fully fit.
“At times he’s a good target man, but if you tell him to be a target man he’ll never face the goal,” Solskjaer told reporters. “Today [Sunday] he was side-on and he’s got the attributes of a top, top striker.
“We need to work on his fitness, but I’m delighted. Even though he was half a yard offside [for his goal], it was a good finish.”
Bournemouth lost their goalscorer and defender Nathan Ake to injury late in the game, but manager Eddie Howe was unsure about the severity of the suspected hamstring issue.
“I don’t know the latest on Nathan Ake,” Howe said. “I’ll need to speak to him and the medical team, but it looked like a hamstring complaint.”