Pogba injury is long-term blow

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba walking off as he is substituted for Marouane Fellaini during a Champions League match against Basel last month. United beat Basel 3-0 and have won their next four matches.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba walking off as he is substituted for Marouane Fellaini during a Champions League match against Basel last month. United beat Basel 3-0 and have won their next four matches.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho concedes that hamstrung star midfielder will not return anytime soon

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has finally admitted that Paul Pogba's injury absence will be "long-term" amid fears the Manchester United midfielder could be out until after the November international break.

The France player injured his hamstring in a Champions League tie against Basel earlier this month and initial reports suggested he could be out for three months.

United manager Mourinho had previously refused to comment on those reports and claimed he had not even asked for an update about Pogba's status. But, while the Portuguese still would not address those claims, he has finally conceded there is no return for the 24-year-old in the near future.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, he said: "He's injured, he cannot play tomorrow and it's not an injury that I can have the hope I have with (Antonio) Valencia or (Phil) Jones.

"I have the hope to see them in training. Long-term injuries I don't speak about them. (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, Pogba, (Marcos) Rojo, I don't think about these players."

Mourinho listing Pogba along with Ibrahimovic and Rojo, who have been out since suffering knee ligament injuries in April, does appear worrying for United.

Rojo, at least, is training with the United squad while Mourinho has refused to reveal any details about the knee ligament injury Ibrahimovic suffered before signing a new contract with the club.

Pogba, Rojo and Ibrahimovic are joined on the sidelines before today's Premier League game with Crystal Palace by Michael Carrick, while Jones and Valencia are to be assessed after missing the midweek Champions League game at CSKA Moscow.

Marouane Fellaini also missed out with an ankle injury that is still under assessment, while Anthony Martial went off in the 4-1 win.

"I hope some of the players that couldn't play in Moscow can recover," the manager said.

Despite those setbacks, United are second in the Premier League, and have won their last five matches in all competitions, scoring 16 goals in the process.

Mourinho said he is more concerned about United's gruelling schedule than the standard of opposition they face.

"We have to play against everybody home and away and when I look at the fixtures I only look to the period of time we have to recover from match to match," he said. "That's the only thing that concerns me and makes me think. The opposition is not the problem.

"The mentality is very important because we played Wednesday night and we arrived in Manchester at 4am, (and) home at 5am."

Roy Hodgson could hardly have been given a more testing start following his appointment as Palace manager just four games into the new season.

Defeats in his first two games, at home to Southampton and away to Manchester City, mean Palace have set an unwanted Premier League record of becoming the first team to fail to register a single goal or point in their opening six Premier League games.

With Chelsea due to visit Selhurst Park after the trip to Old Trafford, things could get worse before they get better for the bottom club.

And their hopes of breaking that run took a dip when Christian Benteke, Palace's only available recognised striker, damaged knee ligaments at City and is now expected to be out for at least six weeks.

Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and defender James Tomkins will also be missing today.

"Manchester United have a very strong squad but we will be looking to give them a good game and hope for any good luck that is around," said Hodgson yesterday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Pogba injury is long-term blow'. Print Edition | Subscribe