Roy Keane shares theory over why Rasmus Hojlund is benched for Manchester United vs Newcastle

Rasmus Hojlund has benched to ‘keep him fresh’ – but Roy Keane thinks there’s more at play… (Photo: Getty / Sky Sports)

Erik ten Hag is ‘sending a message to Manchester United’s board’ by dropping Rasmus Hojlund to the bench against Newcastle United.

That is the theory of Roy Keane who was ‘surprised’ to see his former club line-up for Wednesday’s huge clash at Old Trafford without a striker.

United take on Newcastle in a game that could decide which club plays in European competition next season.

Ten Hag has made one change from the side that lost to Arsenal last Sunday and it’s not one that many were expecting, with captain Bruno Fernandes back in the starting XI after recovering from injury, while Hojlund is benched.

It means that they play without a recognised No.9, with Marcus Rashford also among the substitutes while Anthony Martial is still sidelined.

Spekaing before kick-off Ten Hag explained his tactics: ‘We want to keep him [Hojlund] fresh. It’s a long season for a young player. You see sometimes his energy levels are dropping. 

‘We have Brighton and the FA Cup final left. So lots to fight for. Who will play up front? It’s all possible.’

Bruno Fernandes has taken Hojlund’s place in the starting XI (Photo: Getty)

But United legend Keane believes that the Dutchman’s decision is his way of saying that he is desperate for the club to sign a new striker in the summer.

‘Maybe the manager is sending a message to the board that he has not got many options,’ he theorised on Sky Sports.

‘Sometimes I think managers do that with a couple of games to go to show they need reinforcements. Obviously, he is hoping he will be ready for the cup final.’

Fellow pundit and United legend Wayne Rooney shared Keane’s theory, adding: ‘I think it’s a message to everyone.

‘The supporters, the media, to everyone looking in at Manchester United. I think to leave your recognised striker and goal scorer out is a huge call.

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‘I think when you look back at the great Manchester United teams, the era when you had Coley [Andy Cole], Yorkie [Dwight Yorke], Teddy [Sheringham], Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer].

‘In my time, we had myself, Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Carlos] Tevez, [Dimitar] Berbatov. It’s so strange to see Manchester United now with only one recognised striker.’

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