Ole: Pogba can return this year
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not given up hope of Paul Pogba rejoining his resurgent Manchester United line-up in 2019 despite his ongoing fitness battle.
The French World Cup winner has not played for United since the last day of September, missing 14 games. His foot injury has proved difficult to shake off and as United complete their Europa League group campaign at home to AZ Alkmaar, there is no sign of a return.
‘No. It’s too early,’ said Solskjaer, whose side are already through and will win the group if they avoid defeat tonight. ‘We hope he will play again in 2019. He’s working hard to get fit so hopefully we can get him back on the pitch. Let’s get Paul fit first and back in form and he’ll play loads of games. He’s one of the best players in the world and we’re looking forward to having him back.’
Despite Pogba’s absence, United’s season has taken a turn for the better, with wins against Tottenham and Manchester City last week. The form of midfield pair Scott McTominay and Fred — who is finally finding his feet — has made Pogba’s injury problems less of an issue.
Solskjaer has spoken to Fred and team-mate Jesse Lingard about the alleged racist abuse they suffered in Saturday’s Manchester derby. ‘We’ve spoken with the boys of course and they feel the same as me: this isn’t how it should be in football but what we can do is prove that we’re all equal,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It’s a tough couple of days for Jesse and Fred.’
Turning to matters on the pitch, the United manager said: ‘Fred’s had the confidence of the coaching staff, me and the players all the time. This form is down to him. He’s been working really hard and he’s grabbed his chance when Paul got injured. We’re all happy to see him perform at this level and I’m sure he can kick on and improve.’
Despite United needing a point to finish top of their group, Solskjaer will rest key players tonight, with Nemanja Matic in line to play for the first time since October. Phil Jones may also be recalled for the first time since his disastrous display in the 3-3 draw at Sheffield United last month when he was hooked at half-time.
‘Phil’s fit, training well, training hard and I’m sure he’ll come back,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It was a tactical thing. I had to change the formation at Sheffield United and he was the one I chose to change. Phil’s fine.’Daily Mail