Manchester United’s players yesterday went through their preparations for tonight’s vital Champions League encounter against Paris Saint-Germain.
United held a full open training session on Tuesday, shortly before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about the PSG test at his press conference. Solskjaer revealed he had a “big training group” and claimed David de Gea, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw were among those back in training after recent injury or illness.
His task is now to ensure United get the point they need from the PSG game to qualify for the knockout stags, with a win likely to guarantee top spot for Solskjaer’s side.
Here are four things we spotted in the pre-PSG training session:
Pogba and Greenwood involved
It has not been the most plain-sailing of campaigns for either Paul Pogba or Mason Greenwood. Both have been criticised for their performances in the media, both have endured spells with illness and both — you could feasibly argue with good reason — are not in United’s first-choice 11 as things stand right now.
But both are immensely talented and players who Solskjaer believes in. They looked sharp on the Carrington turf and will be emboldened by the knowledge that United will need a big squad to cope with fixture congestion in the weeks to come.
It will be interesting to see if either player starts against PSG, but they look ready to take their chances whenever they come.
Martial wrapped up
Perhaps it was simply the cool Manchester weather on the first day of December that forced Martial to wrap up like the Michelin Man, complete with woolly hat and over-sized coat. Or perhaps it was the illness that Solskjaer revealed kept him out of United’s win over Southampton.
Notwithstanding the current unprecedented threat of Covid-19, this is the time of year where illness can take its toll on squads, so United are clearly treating Martial carefully. They need to continue to wrap him up and get him out on the pitch. He is in contention to feature against the Parisians.
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Manchester United secured a dramatic comeback victory at Southampton on Sunday, largely thanks to Edinson Cavani’s two goals off the bench.
Bruno Fernandes’ goal set Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on course to battle back from 2-0 down at St Mary’s, giving United a third successive Premier League win.
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Are United expecting an aerial onslaught from PSG?
You might be forgiven for thinking so, watching them train the day before the Champions League match. There was a fairly lengthy head tennis drill for the United squad, though it was probably more to get the competitive juices flowing rather than to brace the players for a long ball game from the French champions.
Solskjaer is clearly keen to ensure his side are as sharp in the air as they are on the deck.
It has been a while since fans saw Eric Bailly or Odion Ighalo in a match, but they were among those involved in this latest training session.
In fact, Phil Jones was the only man missing, with Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero both taking part too though they are unlikely to be included in a matchday squad any time soon. Bailly needs to find regular fitness to persuade Solskjaer he is worth persisting with.
More than anything, this highlights the need for United to offload players in the January transfer window, with their current squad seriously bloated.