Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expects Manchester United captain Harry Maguire to miss the Europa League final against Villarreal.
An integral part of the set-up since his big-money move from Leicester in 2019, the 28-year-old was forced off in the comeback win at Aston Villa on May 9 after Anwar El Ghazi awkwardly landed on him.
Maguire suffered ankle ligament damage in the incident but Solskjaer had been upbeat about the Red Devils skipper returning to lead the side out in Wednesday’s final in Gdansk.
However, Solskjaer’s positivity has waned and the United boss expects the England international to miss the shot at glory against Villarreal.
“He’s walking but it’s a long way from walking to running so, to be honest, I don’t think we’ll see him in Gdansk, no,” the Norwegian said after the centre-back was pictured walking without crutches on Thursday evening.
“But, as I’ve said so many times, I’m going to give him until Tuesday night, the last training session, and see if he can try to be out there.
“Steadily but surely he’s improving but ligaments they take time to heal.”
Solskjaer expects the defender to play an important role off the field in Poland if, as expected, he does not make it.
“He’s a very important person in the dressing room and a leader,” the United boss said ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Wolves.
“Before the fans came in, I think you all heard him from the stands.
“He does still want the team to do well, of course, he’s organising even from the stands, which has been easy because it’s been so quiet.
“So, he’ll come (to Poland), he’ll be in the dressing room, he’ll make sure everyone’s ready for the final.”
Anthony Martial also looks doubtful for Gdansk given the knee injury sustained on international duty with France in March will keep him out of Sunday’s trip to Molineux.
Solskjaer says Scott McTominay and Fred should be fine to face Wolves after sustaining knocks during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Fulham, while Daniel James is back after a recent period on the sidelines.
The United boss is planning a “few changes” at Molineux with second place wrapped up – the first time they have finished in the top four in back-to-back seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
But the 1999 treble hero is well aware of the work that still needs to be done to get back to the medal-laden success enjoyed under the Scottish great.
“Of course we’re planning as we normally do,” Solskjaer said when asked about United’s summer transfer strategy.
“It’s not like ‘end of the season and let’s see what we’re doing’. That’s an ongoing process.
“Looking at the squad, the players who are going to stay, players who might be leaving and, as I’ve said a couple of times lately, I hope that we’re going to strengthen with a few.
“Two or three players we definitely need to challenge higher up in the table. We’re still too far behind to think that it’s just going to come by itself.”
Juan Mata is out of contract this summer and, having spoken to the veteran Spaniard, Solskjaer said “let’s see what he wants to do at the end of the season”.
Sergio Romero is definitely leaving when his deal expires but the United boss does not expect an exodus.
“Obviously we’ve had a few players on loan that might come back in,” Solskjaer added. “There might be some interest in them.
“There is interest in a few others maybe going out but you want to come out of the transfer window strengthened, that’s the thing, and it might be that we allow some players to go out and gain experience and come back stronger for it later on.
“Apart from that, it’s difficult to say. I can’t see too many outgoings.”