Team news: Could Pogba start on Boxing Day?
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted he will start Paul Pogba in the Boxing Day clash with Newcastle United, providing the Frenchman came through the match at Watford unscathed.
Pogba’s return to the XI could provide a timely boost after the disappointing defeat to the Hornets and the manager admits it is
“great to have him back”.
The World Cup winner’s creativity and influence in midfield may help the Reds break down teams that are sitting deep, something that has proved to be a challenge this term.
Solskjaer speaks before Newcastle testVideo
“Let’s see how he reacts to this [Watford game] and how he feels,”said Ole, when speaking to the media at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
“He did really well when he came on. It’s a big, big plus and it might be that we do get him in from the start [against Newcastle] because you just want to get more and more [quality] into the team when he plays.
“He can play anywhere. He can play as a holding midfielder, he’s a box-to-box midfielder. He can drop deep, get it, play those long passes, he can play higher up and combine like he did [at Watford]. He and Anthony [Martial] and Marcus [Rashford] started creating chances down that side so it depends on the game.
“That’s the beauty of having Paul because he is the best all-round midfielder in the world. He can perform all roles, but if I play him low, [some people will say] he should have played high and, if I play him high, I should have played low. There’s always going to be that discussion with him. But it’s great to have him back.”
Diogo Dalot made his comeback in the Under-19s' friendly victory over AC Milan on Friday night, while Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah continue to work their way back to fitness. Marcos Rojo has been out since November's win over Partizan Belgrade.
Meanwhile, in the Newcastle squad, Paul Dummett is a doubt after recently deputising for Jetro Willems.
“He's got a groin injury,” said Steve Bruce, the Magpies boss and former Reds captain.
“We'll see how he is.”
Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie, Ki Sung-yueng and Allan Saint-Maximin are all sidelined for the Tynesiders, who beat us 1-0 in the reverse fixture at St James' Park, with a goal by Matty Longstaff.
“It’s going to be difficult to break Newcastle down,” admitted Solskjaer, ahead of the game that will be shown live on Amazon Prime Video.
“I expect that we’ll get the fair share of the possession. We were disappointed when we had more than 70 per cent possession up there and we lost the game [earlier in the season].”
Highlights: Newcastle 1 United 0Video
Ole is determined he will see a reaction from his players on a day that is traditionally a special occasion for the supporters.
“One of the good things about the team this year, we have reacted well after bad results,
“ he said.
“We haven’t kept the consistency as we’d like the other way, but we’ve also not gone on a big run like we did towards the end of last season. So there will be a reaction definitely.”
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