Confirmed: Tuanzebe to miss United v PSG
Axel Tuanzebe has been ruled out of Manchester United’s upcoming UEFA Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain, after receiving a one-match ban in the competition.
Making his fifth appearance of the season, Tuanzebe slotted in at centre-back alongside captain Harry Maguire and was unfortunately cautioned for a foul on former Chelsea striker Demba Ba.
It is Axel’s third yellow card of the European campaign so far, following previous bookings against PSG in France and Basaksehir in Turkey, which earns him a suspension in the competition.
As a result, Tuanzebe cannot face PSG at the Theatre of Dreams next Wednesday and that provides Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a headache, given United require one point to reach the knockout stages.
Axel was superb in the reverse fixture against the Ligue 1 champions as he made his first competitive appearance since December 2019, earning deserved praise for keeping superstar duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar quiet.
United’s attention has now turned to Sunday’s Premier League match against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium and Ole has a decision to make about his centre-backs. Maguire is sure to start, but who will be alongside him?
Lindelof is presumably a major doubt for the important top-flight game due to the injury that troubled him during the recent international break and forced him off against Basaksehir.
Tuanzebe is perhaps the favourite to partner Maguire against the Saints, as that would allow Victor to rest ahead of the European outing versus PSG.
The manager may provide an update on his centre-backs during his pre-match press conference at the Aon Training Complex on Friday, for which the start time is still to be confirmed.
TEAM NEWS FROM PARIS
Marco Verratti made his first appearance since 2 October on Tuesday, as a substitute in the 1-0 Champions League win over RB Leipzig.
His return is a boost for the Ligue 1 side, whose talisman Neymar also returned from injury during last Friday's 3-2 defeat to AS Monaco, following a spell on the sidelines with a groin injury.
Former Everton man Moise Kean also returned to training and action last week, after recovering from an ankle problem.
EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT: BACK STRONGER
In Saturday’s edition of United Review at Old Trafford, Tuanzebe spoke eloquently about his injury troubles during the 2019/20 season and looked forward to showing his ability this campaign.
“In general, it was a disappointing season due to injuries, and obviously COVID-19 affecting the entire world,” said Axel. “So it wasn’t as productive as planned. But this season, it’s good to be back. I had a positive first game [against PSG], and it’s just about building it from there.
“I want to take it throughout the season and try to grow with every stride. Now it’s about continuing to make more and more appearances and playing a bigger role in the team. The competition is high and things can change quickly. So it’s about always being ready, understanding the situations, reading the situations; making sure I always keep myself ready and available.
“With this season, with the COVID-19 situation, there are a lot more games coming thick and fast. So that’s a positive for me: to be getting regular minutes.”
“The toughest stage of rehab was being on crutches,” said Axel. “I mean, it’s hard to do anything for yourself. Even simple things like going up and down the stairs takes ages. So that was tough and, obviously, you’re just trying to think; you’re trying to look ahead and see. ‘When is this going to end? When can I get back and moving? When can I put pressure on my foot again?’
“But as soon as I got off crutches it became more positive – wanting to work, wanting to build – and everything went from there. My physio, John Davin, was always with me for every step of the way. He came to visit me at the house a couple of times once lockdown had eased and dropped me off some stuff to use while doing the rehab. So it was great to have that kind of support one-to-one.
“You build an even tighter relationship and sometimes you just start talking about other things that are not even related to football. I’ve known John for years, so we have that kind of relationship anyway. But if it was someone else in that situation, then being tight to someone on a one-to-one basis always helps massively.”