Paul Pogba ruled out of Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Paul Pogba will not be available for Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford return, with Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic “touch and go” for Manchester United’s highly-anticipated encounter with Tottenham.

The 26-year-old has not featured since September due to an ankle injury and returned to the north-west at the end of last week after a spell of rehabilitation in Miami.

But Pogba will not be fit for Wednesday’s reunion with former United boss Mourinho, who the World Cup winner regularly clashed with towards the end.

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Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba clashed towards the end of their time together at Old Trafford (John Walton/PA)
Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba clashed towards the end of their time together at Old Trafford (John Walton/PA)

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “No. Paul’s not ready, no.

“He’s still a bit away but he’s working hard so let’s see. He’s out on the grass, so let’s see how long it will take.”

United looked light in midfield at the start of the season and that issue has been compounded by injuries.

Scott McTominay has been in impressive form for Manchester United when fit (Martin Rickett/PA)
Scott McTominay has been in impressive form for Manchester United when fit (Martin Rickett/PA)

In addition to Pogba, influential midfielder McTominay has missed United’s last three matches with an ankle issue and Matic has not been seen for two months.

“They’re touch and go,” Solskjaer said. “So let’s get this training session out of the way. We’ve got more games than this one, so of course I can’t look at just the one game, we have got to look at long-term.”

McTominay and Matic were trusty lieutenants under Mourinho, who Solskjaer expects to get a good reception when he returns to the Old Trafford touchline for the first time since his sacking last December.

“Very good reception,” Solskjaer said of his predecessor. “Of course that’s just a testament to this club and the supporters of this club.

Jose Mourinho returned to Old Trafford as a pundit after his sacking (Martin Rickett/PA)
Jose Mourinho returned to Old Trafford as a pundit after his sacking (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Of course they remember the two-and-a-half years he was here, he won trophies. I’m 100 per cent sure our fans will welcome him, and the staff and the club, everyone.”

Mourinho was dismissed 12 months ago with United sixth in the Premier League standings, having won 26 points from 17 matches.

Solskjaer’s side have drawn with promoted Sheffield United and Aston Villa in their last two league matches, leaving the Red Devils ninth on 18 points after 14 games – the club’s worst start to a campaign in 31 years.

That form has seen again seen Solskjaer’s future at United come under scrutiny at a time when several of his top-flight counterparts have lost their jobs.

Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last month (Nick Potts/PA)
Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham last month (Nick Potts/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino, who has been heavily linked with United in recent years, has been sacked by Tottenham while Arsenal and Watford have parted company with Unai Emery and Quique Sanchez Flores, respectively.

However, asked if the start of sacking season has him concerned, the Norwegian said: “No, it doesn’t make me more concerned.

“I’m just focusing on my job and that’s doing as well as I can and look forward to the next game, but also look long term, plan things with the board.

“It’s that time of year. It’s never nice to see your colleagues lose their jobs – now three in a very short space of time.”

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