Ole Gunnar Solskjaer underlined his faith in Anthony Martial by selecting the striker for Manchester United’s clash with Southampton.
The Frenchman has faced his doubters throughout his Old Trafford career.
He struggled to find top gear last term and the arrival of Jadon Sancho led to rumours of Martial being moved on – especially with Mason Greenwood’s rapid development.
Despite that, Solskjaer picked the former Monaco man with summer signing Sancho, once again, starting on the bench.
“Anthony has looked sharp and he looked sharp when he came on and he looked sharp in the game we played against Burnley in the week, and he played well against these at Old Trafford last season.”
The Frenchman joined Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood in attack with Bruno Fernandes supporting from midfield.
The United boss accepts that last season was below Martial’s standards, but believes he has renewed motivation this term as he ruled out his departure.
He said recently: “I have no plans whatsoever for him to play against us. Anthony has come back strong and hungry, with the determination to prove his fitness and his quality.
“Last season was a difficult and disappointing one for him and you can see that little bit of grit between his teeth again.
“He is up for the challenge, he is Man United player and we are happy to have him. He has proven doubters wrong so many times.”
Victor Lindelof continued to partner Harry Maguire at the heart of defence with new boy Raphael Varane on the bench.
“Of course you’re tempted but we need to give them the foundation of the work,” said Solskjaer.
“Jadon played during the week, so he’s more ready than Raphael. Raphael hasn’t played football yet, but he’s had a good week of training.”
Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka completed the back four with Fred and Nemanja Matic occupied roles at the base of midfield, with Scott McTominay only fit enough for the bench.
United headed to St Mary’s eyeing a piece of history on the south coast this afternoon, looking to extend their unbeaten run on the road to 27 games.
That would equal the number registered by Arsenal, before their streak was ended by a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford in 2004.
Solskjaer saw his side stage a late comeback to win this fixture last term.
Edinson Cavani’s stoppage time winner helped United come from two-goals down to pick up all three points.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils boss is expecting a tough task against a Saints side who lost their opening game at Everton.
“Always with Ralph’s teams you get high energy, high pressing, belief in themselves,” he said on Friday.
“And they give you a great challenge, like they did last season we were lucky to – well, not lucky, maybe lucky, maybe good – when we turned their two-goal lead into a 3-2 win for us with Edinson’s substitute appearance.
“We know every time we travel down there it’s a very, very difficult game.”