Soccer

Six games Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should rest Cristiano Ronaldo in before Christmas

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is well aware that he must use Cristiano Ronaldo wisely at Manchester United this season.

While he remains one of the best players on the planet, Ronaldo, 36, is no spring chicken and will need to be rested at the right times.

Solskjaer admitted as much after the returning hero scored twice on his second United debut at the weekend, helping them claim a 4-1 win over Newcastle.

Being left out of the side on occasion will help Ronaldo maintain optimum fitness and performance levels for more crucial fixtures throughout the campaign – but which games should he miss?

We've picked out six United matches between now and the hectic Christmas period which could provide the ideal opportunity for CR7 to put his feet up and recharge his batteries.

September 22 – West Ham H (Carabao Cup third round)

With more important Premier League outings against the Hammers and Aston Villa coming three days either side of it, it would be a surprise to see Ronaldo play a big part in this fixture.

Solskjaer will surely name him as a substitute and, at most, only look to use him late on.

Do you think Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Manchester United to the Premier League title this season? Let us know in the comments section below.

October 20 – Atalanta H (Champions League)

Should United pick up positive results in their first two Champions League group-stage matches against Young Boys and Villarreal, their clash with Atalanta could be another decent opportunity for Ronaldo to rest up.

The game comes in the midst of some key Premier League fixtures, with a trip to Leicester in store on October 16 and bitter rivals Liverpool due to visit Old Trafford on October 24.

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November 2 – Atalanta A (Champions League)

Ronaldo could end up starting both meetings with Atalanta on the bench given the tough Premier League tests that sandwich their trip to Italy at the start of November.

United are set to go away to Tottenham three days before, while neighbours Manchester City are making the short trip to Old Trafford on November 6. Ronaldo will be expected to start both.

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November 20 – Watford A (Premier League)

After the November international break, which Ronaldo will be heavily involved in as captain of Portugal, Solskjaer could give him time to recover by leaving him out at Vicarage Road.

He will need to be raring to go over the 10 days which follow their clash with Watford, as Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal come in their next three fixtures.

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December 8 – Young Boys H (Champions League)

The Red Devils will hope to have wrapped up qualification for the Champions League knockout stages by the time their final group outing against Young Boys comes around.

If that is the case, Solskjaer would be expected to give the five-time Ballon d'Or winner a night off and keep him fresh for a Premier League trip to Norwich three days later.

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December 18 – Brighton H (Premier League)

After this game, United have an eight-day break before the hectic Christmas schedule gets underway, with three Premier League matches in store from December 26-January 1.

It would do no harm for Ronaldo to take the night off against the Seagulls, who Solskjaer's men are likely to get the better of without him, and ensure he is ready for that run of games.

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