The start of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign is now less than a fortnight away, meaning managers up and down the league are putting those all-important finishing touches to their plans ahead of the big kick-off.
For Manchester United, who saw their pre-season friendly with Preston North End on Saturday cancelled following a coronavirus outbreak within the United camp, their season will begin with an intriguing-looking opening day assignment against Leeds United at Old Trafford.
The contest with Marcelo Bielsa’s side should present new signing Jadon Sancho and incoming United centre-back Raphael Varane with the opportunity to make their competitive debuts for their new club, meaning plenty of focus will be on the pair of them.
However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who watched his side play out a 2-2 draw with Brentford last Wednesday, does have a cluster of injury issues to contend with.
Having been forced to pull out of the England squad during the European Championship with a hip injury, United goalkeeper Henderson was in danger of missing the start of the new season.
However, the former Sheffield United loanee has made good progress and is poised to be available for selection, should Solskjaer, wish to call on him, against Leeds. He returned to training in the middle of July and has since made good progress, so much so that he was in contention to feature against Preston on Saturday.
He could feature in Saturday’s final friendly against Premier League rivals Everton.
Return date: Available now for selection.
Few players have suffered on the injury front in the last 18 months more so than forgotten centre-back Jones. The former Blackburn Rovers ace has not featured for United since the FA Cup fourth-round triumph over Tranmere Rovers in January 2020.
But after so long on the sidelines, the 29-year-old defender has now returned to training.
Solskjaer, speaking after the draw with Brentford, said: “Phil Jones is coming back in. He’s due to start training over the weekend when we’ve got everyone in on Monday, which is a big plus for him.
“I’ve had similar troubles in my career and he’s such a professional good lad.
“It’s great to see him ready to train again. Hopefully Jonah can first of all train with us and then game-time soon.
“If he can play in the 23s to start with or reserves, or we can arrange some behind closed doors for him because I know exactly the feeling of being out for so long.
It has been a long period on the sidelines for Phil Jones.
(Image: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
“You just want to feel your way in. He’s always served the club and it was time to look after him and his own health but now he’s ready to train with us.”
Return date: Once he has gained fitness from U23s football.
With Luke Shaw reporting for pre-season much later than most of the squad due to international commitments at Euro 2020, the last thing United would have wanted was an injury to Telles at left-back.
However, the Brazilian, formerly of Porto, is going to miss the start of the season after picking up an ankle injury last month in training.
He is expected to be sidelined for the whole of the first month of the campaign, with Solskjaer recently admitting that the news was “worse than we hoped for.” Telles was pictured on crutches over the weekend.
Return date: September.
Frenchman Martial has been sidelined with a knee problem since March, meaning he missed the closing stages of last season and then Euro 2020.
However, he has made good progress over the summer and is now closing in on a return. He has returned to training, but in the latest update provided by Solskjaer, Martial is not yet training alongside the first-team.
The United boss said : “Anthony Martial has also joined us, but he’s not joined the team training yet. He’s recovering from the knee injury and that looks good.”
Return date: Unknown
Rashford will miss up to two months of the new season after taking the decision to undergo shoulder surgery.
The United academy graduate played through Euro 2020 with both his shoulder problem and a foot injury, so some time out of the firing line will serve him well in the long-run.
On Friday, United issued a statement to confirm that Rashford will undergo surgery.
It read: “Following consultation between Marcus, the manager, club medical staff and specialists, Marcus will undergo surgery imminently to resolve his shoulder injury.
“He will now focus on his rehabilitation in order to return as soon as possible.”
Return date: Late September/early October.
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