Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Paul Pogba is not ready to play three games in quick succession and was left out of the squad for Saturday’s clash against Burnley as a precaution.
Pogba was a second-half substitute for the 4-1 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day following on from a 26-minute cameo against Watford last weekend. That was his first taste of competitive action since the end of September due to a persistent ankle problem.
With fellow midfielder Scott McTominay sustaining a knee injury against Newcastle it was widely expected that Pogba would play a more significant role against the Clarets.
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However, the France international was not even named among the substitutes for the clash with Sean Dyche’s side.
Pogba continues to be linked with a move away from Old Trafford so some had speculated that his absence may be linked to a January transfer.
However, Solskjaer, who has regularly played down speculation regarding Pogba’s future, says his absence was purely down to protecting his fitness.
“It is a quick turnaround. We have had some players playing quite a bit. Fresh legs coming in,” said Solskjaer.
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“Paul has played two games now and has been out for a while so we didn’t feel it was right for him to participate today.”
Pogba has been restricted to just six starts this season after initially suffering the injury against Southampton at the end of August.
He was able to return for two matches the following month, but broke down again after the draw at home to Arsenal on September 30.
The former Juventus midfielder’s comeback was then delayed by a bout of illness, which Solskjaer said explains why he was pictured dancing vigorously at his brother’s wedding earlier this month.
The Norwegian also confirmed that he does not yet know the severity of McTominay’s knee problem, after the midfielder left Old Trafford on crutches after he was forced off during the first half against the Magpies.
“We’ve looked at Scott but we haven’t done the full scan yet. Over the weekend we will know more. It didn’t look good but we hope he’s going to heal quickly,” he added.