Manchester United have been hit by the news that under-fire defender Harry Maguire is expected to miss today’s visit from Wolves through injury.
Maguire has endured miserable form for much of the current season but his absence might still be felt, as manager Ralf Rangnick is understood to already be without the AFCON bound Eric Bailly.
Although Lindelof could be released from isolation to belatedly link up with teammates later today, Maguire is almost definitely out of the first United match of 2022.
With Raphael Varane being gently brought back into the first-team picture after injury, the former Leicester star’s absence puts extra strain on the Reds’ defence.
Another notable absentee is want-away attacker Anthony Martial. The 26-year-old has been frozen out since demanding a move and seems unlikely to feature again under Rangnick.
On the upside, United are boosted by the return of Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese ace was suspended for the win over Burnley but is available to take on Bruno Lage’s visitors.
Mixed squad news then, with Maguire’s absence coming at the same time as scrutiny over his club form has seriously increased.
As reported by The Mirror, former Reds’ ace Rio Ferdinand had added his voice to the growing criticism by questioning the £80m man’s suitability to wear the armband.
“The fact that he has had the armband has given him that grace. Which it would do. I think he was given it too early.” Ferdinand said.
“It’s a hard enough job coming into Manchester United, getting your feet under the table and stating to feel comfortable as it as without the added pressure of being captain.
“Being captain is a massive responsibility, there is history that goes with it, a big weight on your shoulders.”
The former United stopper believes that the pressure of being captain is getting to Maguire and that David de Gea should have been entrusted with the role instead.
He continues, “This is all with hindsight but you have to got to think about these times that might come with someone like Harry Maguire, new at the club in that sense. And that added pressure is weighing on him heavily at the moment.”
Is it possible that Rangnick has decided to take his ailing centre-back out of the firing line and given him time to mentally regroup?
Although that’s clearly just wild conjecture, it says a lot about the 28-year-old’s recent struggles that the former mainstay probably won’t be missed by large swathes of the United fanbase.