Amid the furore surrounding David Beckham's transfer to Real Madrid, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to have been quietly lined up as the England captain's successor on the right side of the Manchester United midfield.
The Norwegian's performances so far on United's tour of the United States have been encouraging and Solskjaer is intent on proving he is capable of holding down a first-team place. Now 30, he knows such a chance may not come again, and if it means having to step into Beckham's boots on the right side of midfield to seize it, he is ready to do so.
"Hopefully I am being looked upon as a 90-minute player now because that has always been my aim," he said. "For the first few seasons after I came to United we played two strikers, but since Ruud van Nistelrooy arrived, he has played at the top with another man either just behind or a bit wider.
"I have been given that role a few times for Norway, although more often it was on the left. However, as I have got older I have grown into a more mature player who can perform in different roles."
Solskjaer,who has already set up two goals on the US trip and scored another in the 4-0 win over Celtic in Seattle, added: "I have never disliked the role and the more I play it, the more confident I feel about which positions to take up. Crossing has never been a weakness either ... but I will just continue to do my best."
Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, gave an indication of his long-term strategy at the end of last season when he chose Solskjaer ahead ofBeckham for games against Arsenal and Real Madrid. That virtually signalled the end of Beckham's Old Trafford career and Ferguson does not appear to have any regrets.
"In the last two seasons, Ole has got more consistency and more strength," he said. "We never regarded him as a natural wide player but [he has] proved adaptable enough to play on both flanks."
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