Solskjaer sets United challenge ahead of City semi-final

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United walks off after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on January 01, 2021 in Manchester, England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to take "a very big step" and triumph in a semi-final for the first time under his management.

United welcome rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford on Wednesday night in the last four of the EFL Cup, having lost to Pep Guardiola's side at the same stage of the competition last season.

Semi-final defeats in the FA Cup and Europa League followed against Chelsea and Sevilla respectively as Solskjaer failed to end his first full season in charge with silverware.

But Wednesday's one-legged tie offers United an opportunity to lay their semi-final hoodoo to rest and Solskjaer is eager for his players to take it.

"It's always a good question 'how important is it?' and then I can answer very," the United manager said.

"The next game is always important but of course a semi-final is a chance to get to the final, to get your hands on a trophy in the next round and for this team it would be a very, very big step getting your hands on a trophy.

"We've developed a lot in the last six months, last 12 months last, [since] the last semi in the Carabao Cup so of course it's not just learning to win semis.

"We've also earned the right to feel we go all the way with our performances. We are confident, we are going into the game with good form so there's no excuses."

Solskjaer is almost able to call upon a clean bill of health for City's visit, with long-term absentee Phil Jones the only United player currently out injured.

Edinson Cavani will serve the second instalment of his three-match suspension for an offensive social media post but United otherwise have plenty of options to call upon.

"Of course we're disappointed not having Edinson involved," Solskjaer said.  

"He's probably the only one that's not (available) and of course Phil Jones, who has been out for a long time. They're the only two that's not available for selection, which is a good position to be in."

The United manager added: "You play football to win. You play football to win trophies, to get your hands on a trophy - even though when you win that trophy you move onto the next one.

"But it gives you hunger to get more, so of course the squad is focused, we're ready to give it a go. I think we've prepared well for this game."

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