Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken to the media ahead of his team’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
The Norwegian detailed the latest injury updates, addressed the ongoing penalty arguments from the 0-0 Chelsea draw, as well as concluding this is the ‘strangest year’ for every club.
Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani have been missing for United in recent games because of injury problems. But while it is good news about the latter, who may return on the bench, the former is still sidelined with the thigh strain he suffered against Everton last month.
“Edinson trained which is good. Let’s hope there is no reaction and hopefully he’ll travel with the squad,” Solskjaer explained.
“Paul is not ready. [He is] feeling better but he has not been training with the team yet, so he’s definitely not travelling down to London.”
Solskjaer delivered the news that Phil Jones may not play this season because of a problematic knee injury. The centre back hasn’t featured at all this season, a combination of being out of favour and the fitness issues that have plagued him for a decade.
But his chances of securing himself a transfer in summer to kickstart his career elsewhere have taken another hit, having initially been expected to be available again two months ago.
“He’s had a couple of setbacks and it is just that kind of injury that you have to be patient and give him time,” Solskjaer said, going on to reflect on his own similar trouble 15 years ago.
“I know all about knee injuries. I’m not sure [when he’ll be back]. How long is a piece of rope? That’s how I felt as well when I came back. [He will get] absolutely every chance to get back this season. If not, hopefully for the start of next.”
Jones is still under contract at Old Trafford until the summer of 2023 after being handed a new long-term deal in February 2019. But he has only played 15 times for the club since signing it.
Solskjaer has said there is no bad blood or ill-feeling towards Premier League referees after United were denied what he thought was a clear cut penalty against Chelsea on Sunday when the ball struck the hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi in the first half.
“That’s water under the bridge. You move onto the next one. We all know it’s a high pressure situation and you have to accept the situations. We move on.
“I think the referees have a difficult enough job without extra pressure, so we should leave them to make as many good decisions as they can.”
The late start to the season, the utterly jam-packed fixture list, the rapid fall of Liverpool and the complete break-up of the established ‘Big Six’ has made 2020/21 one to remember. The opportunity is there for anyone capable of relative consistency to do well.
“We enjoy being as close to the top as possible, but that’s the quality of the opposition, the tactics and the standards the season demands,” Solskjaer said.
“It’s the strangest year of all for everyone.”
He added: “It’s relentless, Thursday, Sunday, Saturday. We didn’t live in the Second World War thankfully but these restrictions have been nearly as harsh. This squad has been brilliant.”