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Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Manchester United’s strongest line-up without Paul Pogba after injury news

Just when you thought things could not possibly get any worse for Manchester United, they have been forced to stomach another major blow.

That is because midfielder Paul Pogba, according to reports in France, could be set to miss up to 10 weeks worth of action with a thigh injury.

Pogba, who is currently two thirds of the way through a Premier League suspension after being sent-off in the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool a little more than a fortnight ago, suffered the blow during France’s first training session of this current international break.

He has since, of course, been forced to pull out of the squad, meaning he will miss Les Blues’ upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against both Kazakhstan and Finland.

Although United or France have not yet confirmed the severity of the injury, a report by RMC in France has claimed that he could be out for up for the rest of 2021.

That means Pogba may not play again until January, when he’ll be free to discuss a pre-contract agreement with any non-English club ahead of his United deal expiring at the end of the season. The former Juventus man has been heavily linked with an exit from Old Trafford and it does seem doubtful that he will put pen to paper on a new deal.

If United want to avoid losing him for free, they may choose to try and offload him in the January transfer window and recoup some value, opposed to losing him for nothing a few months later.

Pogba racked up seven assists in United’s opening four Premier League matches but his recent form has been patchy and many fans believe he could have played his last game in a red shirt.

With that in mind, MEN Sport has taken a close look at how United may line-up without Pogba;

Goalkeeper – David de Gea

For all of United’s current troubles, it is hard to fault De Gea this season. Although he only has two Premier League clean sheets for his efforts, the Spaniard has been in inspired form, nailing down the No.1 spot and keeping Dean Henderson out of the picture.

He is the first name on United’s teamsheet right now and that is not likely to be changed anytime soon.

Defence – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

Although United have recently switched to a back-three to supposedly help them stop leaking goals, it had a notable impact on their attacking play against Manchester City, as they managed just one shot on target.

So reverting to a flat back-four may be better suited for United after the international break. With everyone fit, under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should try going back to basics, adopting a back-four, from right to left, of Wan-Bissaka, Varane, once fit again, Maguire and Shaw.

Admittedly, Maguire’s and Shaw’s form of late doesn’t really warrant a starting berth, but they could benefit from a settled and familiar system.

Midfield – Scott McTominay, Donny van De Beek; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

Presuming a switch to a back-four would mean United would revert to their familiar 4-2-3-1 system, Pogba’s absence may present Van de Beek with the chance he has craved.

Fred and McTominay has been Solskjaer’s preferred combination at the base of the midfield, but with United’s current form faltering, now could be the time to unleash Van de Beek and give him a chance to strut his stuff and show United what they have been missing out on.

Ahead of one of Fred or McTominay and Van de Beek, Solskjaer ought to consider blooding Sancho into his familiar position on the right-wing, with Rashford deployed down the left.

Fernandes can operate in the No.10 role between them.

Attack – Cristiano Ronaldo

Starved of opportunities against City, Ronaldo needs players to get around him and get crosses into the box for him to do what he does best. As proven against City, playing a 3-5-2 against the top teams is not going to work.

If the likes of Sancho, Fernandes and Rashford can play to the very maximum of their abilities, Ronaldo should get plenty of chances to score.

How Manchester United could line-up at full strength when without Paul Pogba. United’s possible strongest line-up without Pogba: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Van de Beek; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo.

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