Paul Pogba close to Manchester United return; Anthony Martial doubt for Tottenham game
Manchester United face LASK in Austria behind closed doors in the Europa League on Thursday due to coronavirus concerns
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 13/03/20 12:12pm
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is close to returning from injury, but Anthony Martial is out of Thursday's Europa League match against LASK and a doubt for Sunday's game at Tottenham.
United turn their focus back to the Europa League with a trip to the Austrian Bundesliga leaders for the first leg of their last-16 tie.
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Solskjaer's side will be missing long-term absentee Pogba, who is still nursing an ongoing ankle problem, but the United boss says the France international is almost ready to return to training.
"Paul is getting closer but today he wasn't with the team. He's not trained fully with the team yet but by next week he'll be ready," Solskjaer said.
Martial, however, will miss the trip to Austria after injuring himself when he collided with a post during the second half of the Manchester derby.
"Anthony hurt himself when he slid into the post so he's not ready for this game," Solskjaer added.
"Hopefully he can be ready for Sunday [against Tottenham] but I'm not sure. He's struggling a little bit."
Ole: Football is nothing without fans
The game in Austria will be played behind closed doors after the country banned outdoor events of more than 500 people due to fears over the coronavirus.
Chelsea, Wolves and Rangers are also set to play their upcoming European away games against Bayern Munich, Olympiakos and Bayer Leverkusen respectively without spectators.
Asked whether it will affect his side, Solskjaer said: "The players are focused and just concentrating on the job. These are difficult circumstances, not just for football but for the whole of society.
"For us, we just have to do what we're told and get on with the game if that's what the authorities think we should do.
"I think football is for fans, without fans we're nothing so I think the game should always be for them. Of course it's still going to be on telly but tomorrow we might get a different message, or next week or in two weeks' time so of course it's a difficult situation.
"We'll have to create our own atmosphere within the team, within the game of course. They are used to training with no spectators anyway and we do have some friendlies behind closed doors at times.
"I'm in no doubt that my players are focused and that we are ready to perform even though there's no spectators there. It will be strange but we're just going to make the most of it."