Harry Maguire sat out training on the eve of the Europa League final as faint hopes of the Manchester United captain leading the side out against Villarreal were all but extinguished.
The 28-year-old centre-back sustained ankle ligament damage 16 days ago when Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi awkwardly landed on him.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had initially been upbeat about Maguire returning to skipper the side in Wednesday’s final in Gdansk, only for that positivity to wane last week despite the defender coming off his crutches.
But the centre-back’s place in the 26-man squad travelling to Poland provided renewed hope, so too Solskjaer’s suggestion he would make a late bid to be involved against Villarreal.
“Harry is just going to jog up and down the sideline, I reckon,” the United boss said in his pre-match press conference.
“He’ll probably try to join in (training) a little, but apart from that we’re looking quite good.”
Yet within an hour it was clear that Maguire would be taking no part in Tuesday’s session.
The defender, who was named in England’s provisional 33-man squad for the European Championship earlier in the day, headed to the dugout rather than the pitch as his team-mates started training.
Solskjaer went over to him 15 minutes into the session, before the United boss returned to the main group as a forlorn Maguire watched on.
Anthony Martial and Phil Jones did not travel with the squad to Poland due to injury, with the Norwegian facing some big selection decisions, including whether to start David De Gea or Dean Henderson in goal.
“It’s always difficult to leave players out, but it’s throughout the whole season,” Solskjaer said.
“A final is a reward for what you’ve done the whole season, then if there’s a doubt between a couple it’s the form in the latter stages, of course.
“But we’ll enjoy the last session and the players will get the team tomorrow.”