Paul Pogba is facing a further six weeks on the sidelines in another setback for Manchester United’s interim manager, Ralf Rangnick.
Rangnick said it would be another four weeks before Pogba was able to return to training from his thigh injury and another fortnight after that before the France midfielder is expected to be in a position to be able to play games.
It could leave Pogba facing a scramble to be fit for the first leg of United’s Champions League round-of-16 tie away to Atletico Madrid later next month and, barring a dramatic turn of events over the final months of the campaign, the Frenchman’s Old Trafford career appears to be limping to a close.
Pogba, 28, is out of contract at the end of the season and there are no signs as things stand that he will stay beyond then.
“I was told a week ago, it would be a minimum of at least another four or five weeks before he is fit for training again,” Rangnick said.
“I saw him [on Friday] morning before the training session but currently I don’t know how long it will take.
“Right now, he’s not been part of the training group. As far as I know from the medical department, it will last another three weeks, four weeks and once he is then fit for training it does not necessarily mean he is also match fit.
“It will probably take a couple of weeks [after that] before he is really able to compete for the first team.
“It’s one thing to be training fit but, on the other hand, he needs to be fit for the match and competition in either the Premier League or the Champions League and this will still take some time.”
Rangnick said on Dec 10 that he expected Pogba to be out for another four weeks all told. But that timeframe has just passed and a further six-week absence would sideline him until Feb 20 and see him miss United’s next seven matches, or eight should they overcome Aston Villa on Monday night to reach the FA Cup fourth round. United are due to play Atletico in Madrid on Feb 23.
“I hope he will be back as soon as possible,” Rangnick added.
Pogba had spent the earlier part of his rehabilitation recuperating in Dubai, where he has previously recovered from a number of other long-term injuries during his troubled time at United, approval for which was granted before Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a temporary basis.