• Trains with Britain’s Taekwondo Squad

Determined to sharpen his match fitness level, Manchester United’s deadline day signing, Odion Ighalo is currently taking double training sessions with Great Britain’s Olympic Taekwondo squad in Manchester.

The former Nigeria international is pushing himself to be ready for the Red Devils’ next game after the winter break. He is in line for his boyhood club’s debut when United battle top-four rivals, Chelsea on Monday, February 17 at Stamford Bridge.

Ighalo joined the Old Trafford side on a six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua, with the Chinese Super League in the off-season.

Working to shake off his match rustiness, having not played competitively in months, the ex-Super Eagles forward teamed up with the squad preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics holding in Tokyo, Japan.

Performance coach, Wayne Richardson, who the forward brought on board to help with his fitness, has been extremely impressed by the 30-year-old’s motivation to make an instant impact for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

“From the moment he [Ighalo] has stepped through the door, he is one of the few players who has blown me away with his determination, drive and willingness,” Richardson told the Telegraph.

“He’s been doing double sessions and we’ve had to hold him back a bit and monitor him because he has fire in his stomach as a professional.”

Given the timing of Ighalo’s arrival and with the injury to United’s top striker Marcus Rashford, the perception is that the former Watford man has to hit the ground running, a fact not lost on Richardson.

Solskjaer’s troops are currently in Marbella, Spain on the newly-introduced winter break, and the fitness coach believes the on-loan frontman will certainly be fit before the squad’s return if he maintains his unceasing effort.

“If we didn’t have this break, we would have been raising eyebrows,” Richardson said.

“United are in a position now where they need someone now. Is there a right time or wrong time? He might have to hit the ground running due to injuries.

“By doing these sessions, he wants to hit the ground running and you can see that from the work he’s doing behind the scenes.”

Seventh-placed United have 35 points, six points adrift of Frank Lampard’s charges, and could cut the gap to three points with a win in West London. – Goal.com


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