At the end of a week when Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has again told reporters that the player wants to return to Italy, Solskjaer was forced to respond during the manager’s pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s game at Stamford Bridge.
The 26-year-old is nearing fitness but did not travel to Marbella with the rest of the squad for last week’s warm weather training camp. When asked why, Solskjaer responded ‘I don’t have to justify every decision. Paul’s still on his recovery programme, taking off his cast, so when he’s back with us we’ll integrate him. [He’ll be back] hopefully soon. He’s started running on the treadmill so he’s getting closer – it’s been a long haul so hopefully we can see him back soon … He’s been in and around here [at Carrington]. And of course I OK’d him doing his recovery somewhere else.’
‘Paul’s an important player for us but we learn so much about the others as well. Some of the players have really stepped up and taken on responsibility and shown what they can be and what they are for Man United. It’s unfortunate if you get one of your best players injured of course, but that’s just part of it, part of being here. I can’t feel sorry for myself because we’ve had all these injuries – we’re building a squad that can cope with this.’
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The manager was also asked specifically if Pogba would play again for United this season. His answer was less than convincing. ‘Well of course I’d like to say that as soon as he gets fit he’ll be good enough to play and I’m sure Paul’s desperate to play for us again.’
He added ‘As a player the last thing you want is to be is injured and not being able to contribute to your team. Paul’s a footballer and he wants to play football. He knows he has to work hard now to get back to his best as he’s been out for so long. It’s a challenge as well for him to get back to his shape. It’s a difficult period in your career but it is part and parcel of being a player.’
Pogba himself recently posted photos of his recovery training on Instagram and provided a likely timetable for his return to the first team, indicating that he might be fit for either the Manchester derby on March 8th or for the Spurs game on the 15th.
Odion Ighalo is set to make his debut for United in next week’s game against Chelsea. But how much do you know about Man United’s African players over the years? Take our quiz to test your knowledge!