Ole's squad update ahead of Everton game
As Manchester United’s final friendly approaches, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has provided an update on several key players who have so far not featured in any pre-season games.
A number of them were welcomed back into training this week, after delaying their return due to prolonged involvement in this summer's international tournaments. United had five representatives in two major finals, for Euro 2020 and Copa America.
One such player was Fred, who appeared in all but one of Brazil’s games as the Seleção suffered final heartbreak against close rivals Argentina.
“He played nine games for Brazil in the summer so the three weeks he had away from us [on holiday] will have benefited him,” Solskjaer explained.
“He’s not lost any fitness so he’s ready to go.”
Although Paul Pogba produced a couple of dominant performances at the Euros, his France side were knocked out earlier than expected in the round of 16 against Switzerland. After enjoying time off to rest and recuperate, his return to the United set-up was delayed by COVID-19 restrictions, but the boss says he’s in “good” condition as it’s “not been so long since he played.”
“Hopefully they’ll be fit when they come back in with us,” the Norwegian explained to us.
“They’re due to come in after the weekend. There are different circumstances as to why they haven’t joined us yet, but it’s a long season and they had to have a little more time off.”
Two other absentees are centre-back Eric Bailly and exciting young winger Amad. Both played important roles for the Ivory Coast as the African side made it through the group stages at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
While Amad contributed an assist in the groups, Bailly popped up with a goal in the knockout game against Spain before the Elephants were knocked out in dramatic fashion. As for their United status, Ole says they’ll return after quarantining, having flown back from Japan recently.
“Yes of course when you go into these tournaments during pre-season it’s always difficult,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly the day they’ll be back with us after the quarantine, but they’ll be ready and better off for playing these games.”
The key for United is the opening game of the season against Leeds United, when 75,000 fans will be inside Old Trafford for what will surely be a raucous occasion. The anticipation for supporters and players alike is enormous, but before that comes the final friendly, against Everton this Saturday lunchtime.
“The results never matter in pre-season, even though winning a game of football is important,” he said, before outlining the Reds' weekend objectives.
“Performance, fitness levels and going into the last week knowing who we’ve got available for the first league game [are key].”
HOW TO WATCH UNITED v EVERTON
Although the 55,000 tickets available for the Everton game have sold out, fans can watch the game live on MUTV and take advantage of a special pre-season offer.
Supporters can get 12 months of MUTV for the price of six and watch both the men’s friendly clash with Everton (Saturday 12:45 BST) and the women’s warm-up game against Liverpool (Sunday 12:00 BST).
To activate the offer, go to mutv.manutd.com and enter the code MUTVTOUR21. Once you have set it up on the website, you can watch the channel via the MUTV App and other digital devices including Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku and Xbox.