Larsson best Scandinavian player since Laudrup, says Solskjaer

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The Independent Football

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Henrik Larsson has already done enough at Manchester United to prove he is the best Scandinavian player since Michael Laudrup.

Solskjaer told United fans to expect something special when Sir Alex Ferguson secured the veteran Swede on a short-term contract from Helsingborg, and the 35-year-old has not disappointed, scoring twice in six appearances and forging a strong understanding with Wayne Rooney. There have been calls for United to keep Larsson beyond the present 12 March deadline, although Ferguson and Larsson continue to insist the present deal will be honoured.

Given the impact Larsson has made, Solskjaer could be forgiven for feeling slightly put out, particularly as his own recent appearances have been restricted. But nothing could be further from the truth and the Norwegian is not surprised at the impact Larsson has had at Old Trafford.

"I didn't expect anything else," he told MUTV. "We all know Henrik is a quality player. I have said before I think he is the best Scandinavian player since Michael Laudrup - and he has shown that in training and games. His touch is something we can all learn from. You never stop learning as a player and Henrik has done a few tricks in training that have had us all looking and saying, 'We have not seen that before'."

Larsson is expected to start on Saturday when United look to maintain their six-point lead in the Premiership against Charlton Athletic at Old Trafford. Rooney is a doubt after being ruled out of England's friendly with Spain following an injury at Tottenham last week, although with Louis Saha back after a minor knock, Ferguson has plenty of striking options.

United's city rivals, meanwhile, could be without their goalkeeper Nicky Weaver for the trip to Portsmouth on Saturday. Weaver was forced out of Manchester City's weekend defeat by Reading with a hip injury sustained in a collision with team-mate Richard Dunne. Weaver was unable to carry on, offering the Sweden World Cup star Andreas Isaksson a rare opportunity.

Weaver said that he may be forced to miss the game at Fratton Park. "If I was an outfield player I would be confident of making the match but the fact I have to dive around on it makes the situation a bit different," he told the Manchester Evening News. "It was a pure accident but I cannot describe how painful it was. It was the worst pain I have experienced on a football pitch. There is still some bruising but it will settle down, but it is still too early to say how it will be at the weekend."

After virtually three years plagued by career-threatening knee problems, Weaver has performed so well this season that Isaksson, despite his impressive pedigree, has been unable to force his way into the City side. The 25-year-old's only other previous appearance also came as a substitute, in the December defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, and Isaksson has recently suggested that if he is not given an opportunity at City soon he may decide to further his career elsewhere.