Paul Pogba: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends midfielder

Solskjaer on Pogba: "No one can doubt his professionalism, his willingness or his desire to play football"

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Paul Pogba's professionalism and says the midfielder will be like a "new world-class signing" when he returns from injury.

An ankle problem has kept Pogba out of action since United's 1-1 draw against Arsenal in September, but a recent video showing the France international playing basketball in Miami cast doubt over the seriousness of his injury.

Some reports even suggested Pogba was fit and refusing to play for United - fuelling further speculation that the 26-year-old wants to leave Old Trafford - but Solskjaer defended the midfielder.

    Paul Pogba
    Image: Pogba has made six appearances for United in all competitions this season

    "Every player is allowed to be injured when he's injured and Paul is working hard to get back," the United boss said. "No one can doubt his professionalism, his willingness or his desire to play football.

    "He's one of the best midfielders in the world and it'll be like signing a new player before the transfer window opens."

    Pogba is now back in Manchester but will not feature against Aston Villa on Sunday, when fellow midfielder Scott McTominay could return from his own ankle injury.

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    Asked whether Pogba could make his long-awaited come-back against Tottenham on Wednesday, Solskjaer added: "He's stepping up his recovery and let's see how soon he'll be match-fit and available.

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    "He's not really been able to play for us so when we get him back it'll be like a new world-class signing, a new world-class midfielder, so of course we want him back as soon as possible.

    "We've missed him when he's been away. I think some of the players - Scotty and Fred - have taken up that challenge and have done well but of course it's a boost for us when he comes back."

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    Solskjaer delighted with full-back options

    Luke Shaw provided an assist and completed the full 90 minutes against Astana on his first appearance since getting injured in August.

    In his absence, teenager Brandon Williams has made a strong claim to replace Shaw as the club's first-choice left-back, and Solskjaer says he is delighted with his options in defence.

    "I think the performances of Brandon have been a big, big plus - not just for him and me, but for Ethan [Laird], who's played with Brandon through the years," Solskjaer said of the right-back, who was among six debutants in Kazakhstan.

    "So, for me, it's also a big boost for Ethan because we've got many, many full-backs, loads of them who compete.

    "I've been very pleased with Brandon, he scored a great goal [at Sheffield United], so let's see where they're at. Great to have Luke through 90 minutes today and let's see what we do for Sunday."

    luke shaw
    Image: Luke Shaw played the full 90 minutes against Astana on Thursday

    Chong offered 'very good contract'

    United could well have been returning home victorious had Tahith Chong not missed an open goal moments before Astana levelled.

    The 19-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and Solskjaer believes they have made a fair offer to extend his deal.

    "There's players we want to get signed, of course, and Tahith is a player we think is going to develop," he said.

    "We've offered him a very good contract so the ball is in his court."

    Tahith Chong
    Image: Tahith Chong has been offered a new contract by Manchester United

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