Lukaku takes centre stage for Man United
Striker moves in from the wing and makes claim for central striking berth
Romelu Lukaku may have earned himself the central striker's berth when Manchester United play Southampton tomorrow after taking centre stage in the Red Devils' 3-1 away win over Crystal Palace yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Caretaker United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was glad to see Lukaku making the most of playing in his favoured central striker role with his brace in the win at Selhurst Park. Ashley Young scored United's other goal while Joel Ward found the net for Palace.
The Belgian has been asked to fill in on the flanks in recent weeks, with Solskjaer preferring to employ Marcus Rashford through the middle.
But, with Rashford not fully fit and named among the substitutes, Lukaku was restored to his preferred position. He responded with a goal in each half in a win that maintained the Norwegian's unbeaten run in the English Premier League to 11 games since he took charge in December, reported AFP.
And Solskjaer, himself a former United striker, was in no doubt that the positional switch played a key role in the 25-year-old scoring his first goals in 10 appearances.
"He was through the middle today, we created chances for him, he put them away well," said Solskjaer.
"He's done loads of running up and down the line, right wing, left wing, he's had a different role because of Rashford's form, of course.
"Today he got a chance up front, two very good finishes, could have had another one as well earlier on, so very pleased for Rom, he is a quality finisher."
Solskjaer added he had been impressed by Lukaku's attitude during a period when he has slipped down the pecking order at the club - a situation he also had to endure during his own playing days at Old Trafford.
"He's a professional boy, a good boy, it's great to have him in and around the place, always happy, always working on his finishing," said the Norwegian.
"I think he's played more than you think actually, but he's played wide right, wide left, so it's Rash's form that has moved him out there. Now with Rash's injury he grabbed the chance."
Lukaku said he had been waiting for a chance to play in his favoured central role.
He told MUTV: "I was just hoping for a chance to play as a centre forward and I got the chance today and I'm really happy that I helped the team win the game.
"It doesn't matter if I play left, right or up front, I always try and do my best for the team.
"Everybody was doubting us but we responded in the way that Manchester United always should respond - by winning games and dominating."
Former Chelsea and Holland striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, meanwhile, feels Lukaku "doesn't do himself justice" when he is shunted to the flanks.
He said on Sky Sports: "I'm happy for Lukaku that he scored because he's been playing on the right-hand side and he doesn't do himself justice.
"He played really simple today - he also didn't play particularly well - but the chances he got, he was there.
"He had a good chance from a corner he should have scored. They didn't make him scared, he took them (the later chances) and he scored them."