LONDON (Reuters) - Teenager Mason Greenwood can lead Manchester United’s attack at Premier League leaders Liverpool this weekend in the absence of Marcus Rashford, according to former striker Dimitar Berbatov.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he is “not holding his breath” on Rashford’s fitness after the in-form England forward injured his back when coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup replay against Wolverhampton Wanderers this week.
Going to Anfield without Rashford would be a major blow to United’s hopes of ending Liverpool’s 38-match unbeaten league run, but Berbatov says 18-year-old Greenwood can step up.
“Greenwood has got nothing to worry about if he is to lead the line on Sunday because, when he has been given chances to shine, he has done great,” Betfair ambassador Berbatov said.
“He’s a goalscorer, and with that left foot of his, he certainly knows where the net is. I wish him luck for Sunday and I’d urge him to stay calm, don’t be nervous and if the chance comes, just take it.”
Bradford-born Greenwood has scored nine goals in all competitions for United this season, repaying the faith of Solskjaer who described him last summer as the “the most natural finisher” at the club.
“I have no doubt that his time is coming. I think he should be confident and calm enough to step up and not feel too much pressure if Rashford isn’t available,” Berbatov said.
United are the only team to take points off Liverpool this season, drawing 1-1 at Old Trafford, and Berbatov believes they can cause problems for Juergen Klopp’s relentless side who have a 14-point lead at the top of the table.
“Liverpool are so far ahead in terms of points and the way they play football,” the Bulgarian said. “They are so strong mentally as well, if games aren’t going their way or they aren’t playing the way they want to play they still get results.
“Of course Liverpool are the favourites on Sunday, but United can defy the odds. It’s a big game, it’s a derby and as United have shown before they can step up, nobody expected them to beat (Manchester) City at the Etihad.
“If they can use their speed and run into the channels, use that pace they have up front and stay compact and don’t give Liverpool any space then they will be OK.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis