Jadon Sancho "has a way to go" before returning to Manchester United's matchday squad, says Erik ten Hag, who has ruled the winger out of Sunday's clash with Arsenal.
Sancho has not played for United since a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in October, with Ten Hag describing his absence as the result of "circumstances with fitness and mood".
While the 22-year-old returned to team training earlier this week, he will not be involved when United bid to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to seven games against title-chasing Arsenal.
Asked about Sancho's return to the group by MUTV on Saturday, Ten Hag said: "It is the next step. He still has a way to go.
"He will know that, but when he makes this progress, then he can return to the group for games.
"Of course, we all hope for that, because he is a great footballer. He has great skills that can help us.
"We have to cover so many games, but especially we need quality players, and he is definitely a quality player who can make the difference, and we are expecting that from him."
United remain the only side to beat Arsenal in the Premier League this season, and they are bidding to complete just their second league double over the Gunners since Alex Ferguson's 2013 retirement on Sunday, having beaten them home and away under Jose Mourinho in the 2017-18 campaign.
While United will be without Sancho and suspended midfielder Casemiro in north London, they have no other major absences to deal with, and Ten Hag is hopeful of another positive performance.
"As you know, Casemiro is absent, but for the rest, we have a good team, which has to battle with Arsenal," he said.
"We have to go head-to-head, and we are convinced we are in a good way. We have a prepared team and a good plan and energy, and we will be acting on that."