Man United striker Marcus Rashford in training ahead of Barca clash, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Man United striker Marcus Rashford in training ahead of Barca clash

United will have also Pogba back, but Matic, Herrera and Sanchez are doubtful

Manchester United are hopeful striker Marcus Rashford will be in contention for the Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Barcelona tomorrow morning (Singapore time), after recovering from an ankle injury, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said yesterday.

Rashford, who has been managing various injuries in recent weeks, missed both of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers last month as well as United's 2-1 English Premier League defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers last week.

But he was part of yesterday's training session.

"He needed the extra warm-up, hopefully he won't get a reaction. He couldn't join the boxes which is the fun part of training, let's see tomorrow. Hopefully, he'll be ready," Solskjaer told a news conference.

United are also sweating on the fitness of Nemanja Matic, who was on the bench against Wolves due to a muscle issue while fellow midfielder Ander Herrera is a doubt with a knock.

Striker Alexis Sanchez trained for the first time with the squad since overcoming a knee ligament injury, but tomorrow's meeting with his former team comes too soon for him.

"He's done lots of recovery work. He's injury free. He'll probably be in the squad for West Ham (in the English Premier League) on Saturday. He's not going to be able to join in tomorrow," Solskjaer added.

United were beaten 2-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in their Round of 16, first-leg clash at Old Trafford before sealing a memorable 3-1 win in Paris to progress on away goals.

Solskjaer is aware of the need to avoid a similar blip at home against Barcelona.

"We know we need to perform to our best levels, which we didn't against PSG at home. The outcome of the second leg gave the players and supporters belief," the Norwegian said.

"When you get Barcelona, with the quality of their team, we know we need to step up our game.The Champions League throws up strange results.

"It's not going to be decided until we play 90 minutes in the Nou Camp.

"We just have to make sure we perform to our best and have a result to take over to Barcelona."

Ahead of Barcelona's trip to Old Trafford, the Catalan side's president has admitted even they could not compete with United's then-world record offer to bring Paul Pogba back to England in 2016.

"We couldn't afford that amount of money at the time," Josep Maria Bartomeu told ESPN.

"So he went to United and he's making them better as a team because he's one of the stars of the world of football right now."

However, nearly three years on, United can feel they have still to receive sufficient bang for the bucks they paid to Juventus for Pogba in an £89 million (S$157m) transfer fee.

The French World Cup winner will start for just the second time in a Champions League knockout game for United tomorrow.


Benched for both legs of a bitterly disappointing last-16 loss to Sevilla last season by Jose Mourinho due to personal differences and poor performances, Pogba's only previous start ended in a red card and a 2-0 defeat by PSG in February.

Without their suspended star, a youthful United side pulled off a miraculous 3-1 win in Paris to make it to the last eight for the first time in five years and give Pogba another chance to shine on the Champions League stage.

The arrival of Solskjaer to replace the sacked Mourinho in December removed any excuses that it was the Portuguese's straitjacket that was limiting the output of one his most talented players.

An upturn in form was immediate. Pogba scored nine goals and created six more in his first 12 games under Solskjaer.

However, his form has cooled since, and not by coincidence so has United's with three defeats in their last four games. - REUTERS, AFP