Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not intend to start Paul Pogba for Manchester United’s trip to face Tottenham Hotspur on Friday night, the club’s first match back after the season restart.
The Red Devils have not played a competitive match since beating LASK in the Europa League on March 12 – though it has been even longer since Pogba last played, with the Frenchman struggling with a foot injury.
Pogba has not featured for United since Boxing Day, nearly six months ago, and has made just eight appearances in all competitions all season.
And his wait looks set to continue, with The Athletic reporting that Solskjaer will bench Pogba for Friday’s return to action against Spurs – denying fans the chance to see the Frenchman alongside Bruno Fernandes.
The team have been preparing for their upcoming match without Pogba in the starting XI, though the reason for his absence may not be down to a lack of match sharpness alone.
United were enjoying an excellent run of form prior to lockdown, going 10 games unbeaten across all competitions and recording a brilliant win at Old Trafford against Manchester City in their final league match before the season was suspended.
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There is a feeling that Pogba now has to fight his way back into the starting XI and win back his place, with United’s midfield flourishing in his absence.
Fred has arguably been United’s player of the season, Scott McTominay has taken his game to a new level and Nemanja Matic has returned to form, while Fernandes has impressed enormously in an advanced, attacking midfield role.
Solskjaer’s preferred formation, a 4-2-3-1, means Pogba is likely to have to take one of the deeper sitting roles but the United boss looks set to plump for the discipline and defensive awareness of either Matic or McTominay for the away trip to Spurs.
Although Pogba may not make the starting XI in north London, he has been welcomed back into the squad after his injury and, with talk of a move away having been quelled, is expected to get plenty of minutes in the final nine games of the season.
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