Ronaldo not 'a big loss' for Man Utd in derby encounter as Neville deems Rashford more 'dangerous'

Cristiano Ronaldo Man UtdGetty

Cristiano Ronaldo's absence against Manchester City is not "a big loss" for Manchester United, according to Gary Neville, who feels that Marcus Rashford is more dangerous on the counter-attack.

Premier League leaders City are set to welcome their arch-rivals to Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon with plenty on the line as the business end of the 2021-22 campaign approaches.

City are looking for three points to stave off Liverpool in the title race while United need a win to boost their chances of Champions League qualification, but the visitors will be without their top goalscorer Ronaldo.

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What's been said?

GOAL has reported that the Portuguese forward won't be included in Ralf Rangnick's squad due to injury, and with Edinson Cavani also unavailable, Rashford could step in to lead the line.

Neville, who won eight league titles at Old Trafford between 1992 and 2011, feels Ronaldo's absence may actually work in United's favour because Rashford is more dynamic on the break.

"Manchester United will be playing on the counter," the Red Devils legend told Sky Sports ahead of kick-off. "Over the last three or four years here, particularly under Ole, United were a counter-attacking team, really comfortable sitting back and punching out through Rashford and others. I think that will be exactly the same today.

"Ronaldo being out of the team, I could never say it's a positive but I don't see it as a big loss like in other games. I actually think that on the counter-attack, United need to be dangerous today and they're better off with Rashford up front counter-attacking than they would be with Ronaldo."

Ronaldo's first season back at United

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford to much fanfare last summer 11 years on from his initial departure to Real Madrid, with United spending £20 million to re-sign the five-time Ballon d'Or winner from Juventus.

The Portugal captain became a cult hero in his first spell in Manchester, scoring over 100 goals while helping the Red Devils win three Premier League crowns and the Champions League, but has not made quite the same impact this time around.

With just three months of the season left to play, United only have the Champions League to play for in terms of silverware and Ronaldo has hit 15 goals in 30 games - a modest total by his usual standards.

The 37-year-old has found the net just once in his last 10 outings, and could now be facing a spell on the sidelines if his injury turns out to be a serious one.

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