Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Juan Mata has missed Manchester United’s recent matches as he has ‘been away’.
Mata, 32, has not been named in a United matchday squad since the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United three weeks ago and was absent for the games against Arsenal, Southampton, Everton, West Ham and West Brom.
The Spaniard was pictured back in training on Tuesday and Solskjaer confirmed Mata will travel with the squad to Turin for United’s Europa League round-of-32 first leg with Real Sociedad.
“Juan’s been away for a little while,” Solskjaer clarified. “And, of course, you miss [him]. Against West Brom, you’re thinking, do we have someone there to unlock the door? If we had Juan to create that pass. Because he has done well in the earlier part of the season.
“Now he’s back, he’s travelling with us, he’s been bright in training. If we see Juan on the pitch I’m sure he’ll want to prove to his Spanish fans what a quality player he is.”
Amad and Shola Shoretire will be on the bench against Sociedad, with Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani sidelined through injury, while Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay are doubts, despite being included in the travelling squad.
Amad, 18, was an unused substitute in last week’s FA Cup win over West Ham while Shoretire, 17, recently inked his first professional contract and has been promoted to the United first-team’s training bubble.
Mason Greenwood, 19, is expected to be recalled and Solskjaer is determined to continue United’s habit of developing young players.
“We give them the chance to come to Man United and have a successful craeer,” Solskjaer added. “As as a club, we have proven over the years that we take that seriously and are good at that.
“We like to give chances to players to develop and find a talent. Our fans, our history has always been about skilful, attacking players that play with no fear and these are players we’ve identified to carry on that tradition.
“My role is to speak to them and put a clear pathway for them to see this is what we do. I think we’ve shown over the years with the previous managers – Sir Alex was the best – we produced a few of the best players in the world.
“Wayne Rooney was young, Cristiano Ronaldo was young, we developed Giggs, Beckham, that group ourselves. We’ve still got Marcus Rashford and Mason’s come through as well.
“All these experiences help me as a manger when I want to convince players here’s the future for you. And I like to give them a chance. When you’ve followed my career as a coach, that’s one of the biggest enjoyments you can have.”