Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that Paul Pogba could be out of action for as much as 12 weeks, albeit with the Manchester United boss admitting that forgotten man Donny Van de Beek could benefit from his fellow midfielder’s absence.
Pogba – who would have missed Saturday’s trip to Watford regardless due to suspension – is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines after sustaining a thigh injury while on international duty with France, having last featured for Manchester United in the 2-2 draw with Atalanta in Bergamo.
The midfielder came in for criticism for his under-par display in that Champions League clash, having been absent from league duty following the straight red card he picked up as a second-half substitute in the harrowing 5-0 defeat to Liverpool on October 24.
The ever-polarising 28-year-old had enjoyed a strong start to the season, picking up seven assists in the opening few Premier League games, although has been in-and-out of the side since with speculation still rife over his future.
The World Cup winner’s existing contract is set to expire at the end of the season with no suggestion that a new deal is close, opening up the possibility that he could depart for nothing in the summer, or be moved on for a fee in January.
The initial diagnosis of his thigh injury said the Frenchman would be out for around two months, though Solskjaer conceded that the ‘worst-case scenario’ is that he is out until around February.
“It was a disappointing injury for Paul at a disappointing time for him,” Solskjær said. “I can’t say how quickly it will heal: fingers crossed, six or seven weeks, but the worst-case scenario is 10, 11, 12 weeks on muscle injuries like this. Hopefully, just after Christmas we can see him.”
Pogba’s absence could, however, open the door to increased involvement for Van de Beek, who is yet to start a league game this season and has largely been restricted to a role as an unused substitute, having struggled for game time since his £40m arrival from Ajax last summer.
According to his manager, however, the Dutchman has continued to show an impeccable attitude around the club despite the obvious frustration of not playing, with Solskjaer insisting that the player’s chance will come.
“His approach to the game and training is spot on and I can’t fault him,” the Norwegian said. “Donny thinks he should be playing more and he will be involved. He’ll reap his rewards.”