Red Devils wary of Wolf frenzy

Pogba out for four weeks with different ankle injury; United will be stretched against Wolves pack

Wolves' Mexican top scorer Raul Jimenez, who has 17 goals so far this season - the same number as the whole of last season - will be a threat to United today.
Wolves' Mexican top scorer Raul Jimenez, who has 17 goals so far this season - the same number as the whole of last season - will be a threat to United today. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Paul Pogba was a surprise omission from the Manchester United squad in the 2-0 Premier League loss to Arsenal on Wednesday, fanning the flames that the midfielder is set to leave the club during this transfer window.

But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that the Frenchman has suffered a different ankle injury to the one that had previously ruled him out for a large part of the season, and will be due for surgery.

The 26-year-old made a comeback from the initial problem with two substitute appearances before the Arsenal clash, against Newcastle United and Watford, but has now been ruled out for up to another four weeks.

Speaking ahead of today's FA Cup third-round away tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Solskjaer said: "Paul came back after a long spell out, two games, had a reaction... he felt his ankle was sore, so we did a scan. It's not the same injury, it's a different injury."

The Norwegian went on to explain why he initially stated after Wednesday's loss at Arsenal it was Pogba's "people" who had informed United he was not available, raising questions over how much input the club had in the decision for a surgery.

"His people? As in when you consult your surgeon and the ones you trust, that's maybe my bad English," he said. "You have people you trust and speak to. When I had my injuries, I had my people in Norway and Sweden I spoke to and Paul has people he trusts.

"You consult your own medical people as well like I did, when I did my operations. You want the best second opinion and the advice was to have it done. It's not a major one and probably three or four weeks."

With Pogba and his fellow central midfielder Scott McTominay (knee) ruled out, while defenders Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Marcos Rojo are all yet to be fully fit, Solskjaer was also asked about possible transfers this month.

He reiterated: "We're still looking and as I've said so many times we have our targets if they become available and if it's something we want to do. If the right ones aren't there, then they aren't."

The United boss is also wary of today's opponents, having not beaten them in four meetings over the past two years in all competitions.

Wolves beat United 2-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals last March at Molineux, while they have also defeated the Red Devils once in the league and drawn twice.

Solskjaer said: "The quality they have first of all, good players, good manager (Nuno Espirito Santo) who's had time, got his way of playing... swop between 3-5-2, 3-4-3.

"And they seem to know every little detail, know each other, rotations... We know we're up for a hard night at Molineux.

"It's my fourth time there already at Molineux and we haven't won there. We've got to go there positive because we want a reaction after a defeat at Arsenal."

Eighteen-year-old Mason Greenwood, who started and scored in the Boxing Day 4-1 win at home to Newcastle and came off the bench at Arsenal, could be in contention.

"He's grown a lot. He's mentally and physically more robust which of course you expect from an 18-year-old," Solskjaer said.

"He's had more or less 12 months with us now and he's grown fantastically, his confidence and performances in the top games. He's played a lot of Cup games and done well."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Red Devils wary of Wolf frenzy'. Subscribe