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Manchester United hope to return to training in May, says assistant coach Kieran McKenna

Bruno Fernandes. Anthony Martial. Victor Lindelof, Juan Mata
Image: Man Utd plan to return to training at Carrington if government restrictions are eased

Manchester United are optimistic of returning to training next month but have several contingency plans if the countrywide lockdown is extended, according to assistant coach Kieran McKenna.

The coronavirus pandemic led to the indefinite suspension of the Premier League last month, just as United were starting to gain significant ground on the top four courtesy of an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Each United player has individual and group plans to adhere to during the lockdown, which will be next reviewed by the government on May 7.

And United are working on the premise that they might be able to congregate if some restrictions are eased - although McKenna insists they have alternative strategies in place.

"At the moment, we are working towards, touch wood, the lockdown loosening after the next deadline and being able to return to some sort of training," McKenna said on the United app.

"We are working to that schedule at the moment but, if we have to push back again, we have got a plan B and plan C already prepared."

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Speaking exclusively to Gary Neville on Sky Sports' The Football Show, Man Utd captain Harry Maguire says the club want to be challenging for Premier League titles, not just Champions League spots.

The Premier League has given no firm indication of whether the season will be completed to its conclusion and all manner of speculation has abounded in the weeks since the decision was taken to halt football in this country.

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If football does get given the green light to resume soon, McKenna believes finishing the league campaign should be the priority ahead of the FA Cup.

He said: "I think everyone is probably aware that the league has to take precedence in terms of if there was a limited timescale. That is something that has been discussed.

"Obviously the FA Cup is important for the country and important for us as a club as well. The schedule is looking tight towards the end of the season. It seems the European competitions are really keen to start in August as well.

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Paul Merson believes the addition of Bruno Fernandes has raised the level of the rest of the Manchester United team.

"So that probably tightens the schedule a little bit."

What is not in question is all players will need a training block to get back up to speed.

McKenna, though, said: "They are maintaining a higher level of fitness and certainly training at a higher level than an off-season, so we don't expect there to be too much of a drop-off in terms of fitness and general conditioning.

"At the moment, we are working off the premise that we'll have a short window of training, maybe three weeks or so, before we return."

The absence has allowed the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to get closer to full fitness.

Marcus Rashford is Manchester United's top scorer with 19 goals this season
Image: Marcus Rashford has been out since January with a back injury

Pogba has not featured since Boxing Day, playing just eight times in an injury-hit season, while Rashford has been out since mid-January with a back problem.

On the prospect of having them available again soon, McKenna added: "Yeah, it would be nice. Obviously, those are two massively talented players who you are talking about and we have not really had them all season.

"Luke (Shaw) and Anthony (Martial) were picking up injuries in the first half of the season, with Scott (McTominay) picking up injuries, all missing most of the season, and obviously Marcus being a big miss as well, so we haven't really had a full complement to pick from all season.

"If we can get to a point where we get everybody back in, then it's certainly good competition for places in some positions, and also a chance to rotate, which we haven't always had the possibility to do."

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