MANCHESTER UNITED have suffered an alarming number of injuries since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge – and the boss admits he could be to blame.
United have been rocked by the news that four stars have been forced out of international duty this week – with Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic the latest injured.
AFP or licensors1 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's demanding regime is starting to cause injury problems at Manchester United
They join Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial back in the treatment room at Carrington – and it could be they are the latest victims of Solskjaer's punishing regime.
Solskjaer has made a huge impact since being handed the reigns as interim manager at Old Trafford just before Christmas.
He has turned a club that was lurching from one crisis to another into a happy place to work again – and revived United's season as a result.
One of the secrets to the revival has been to work his players hard in training and demanding they make more short sprints than they had under Jose Mourinho.
And though it has brought much improved results on the pitch, there are fears it is starting to have an adverse effect on the players.
A conservative count of first team stars who have suffered injuries since Solskjaer's arrival is 11, and most of those have been muscle problems.
Being put through more rigorous training sessions at the busiest time in the football season has led to United players breaking down.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera all limped off in one match against Liverpool with hamstring problems before half-time.
Marouane Fellaini was hit by a calf strain at the end of his Old Trafford career before he moved to China, while a similar problem has blighted Antonio Valencia.
Shaw's issue is a thigh problem while Matic and Alexis Sanchez also had muscle issues before the Chilean forward damaged his knee ligaments.
Solskjaer admits his increased demands may be a contributing factor to the fitness issues hampering his planning for such a crucial stage of the season.
He said: "It's probably linked, yes, because when do you make that change?
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"Do you wait until pre-season and think you will change results by just not asking them to run? Or do we start now and show them what the demands are?
"We need to play as a Manchester United team and if you want to be a part of United, it is survival of the fittest.
"Some are getting older, aren't they? Juan, Ander, Nemanja (Matic). But it's not just us. Manchester City have a couple of muscle injuries."
United stars injured under Solskjaer
Juan Mata – hanstring
Ander Herrera – hamstring
Jesse Lingard – hamstring
Romelu Lukaku – foot
Alexis Sanchez – thigh/knee
Nemanja Matic – thigh
Anthony Martial – knee
Luke Shaw – thigh
Matteo Darmian – ankle
Antonio Valencia – calf
Marouane Fellaini – calf