Manchester United warned after a 6-4 win over Blackburn at under-23 level that rough tackling could cause an injury for star attacker Hannibal Mejbri.
He then got injured just 25 minutes into the next game against Arsenal, but it was a totally innocuous incident rather than a wild tackle.
Mejbri was battling for a ball in the opposition penalty area and got there first before an Arsenal defender landed awkwardly on him.
He tried to play on, clutching his arm. He didn’t complete the half. The exact nature of his injury is unclear, it could have been a shoulder injury. In any case, it was enough to rule the talented young Frenchman out of this week’s Europa League clash with Real Sociedad.
United are 4-0 up from the first leg and Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo are set to be involved, along with Ethan Galbraith, will all three on the bench at least.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his press conference: “Hannibal is injured for about a month. Amad and Shola will, of course, be involved. They are in the squad but I am not going to tell you if they are starting or not.”
Tough blow for Mejbri
It’s cruel luck for Mejbri who has worked so hard this season to establish himself as a key player for the under-23s, with three goals and six assists.
The 18-year-old was due this first team opportunity on merit, and his first injury of the season has come at the worst time.
But his chances of a debut are not over for this season. He just needs a favour from the first team.
We are looking at a late March return for Mejbri, and there is plenty of football to be played after that.
It’s unlikely United will be able to tie up a Europa League clash in one leg in the latter stages if we get there, so Mejbri’s chance could come in the Premier League.
United have a chance to move nine points clear of fifth placed Chelsea with a victory this weekend.
At present United look good for a top four finish, and it could be tied up with a couple of games to go if we maintain our advantage over the ‘best of the rest’.
If United’s first team stars do the business and wrap up Champions League qualification and even a minimum of second place with a couple of games to spare, a fit again Hannibal Mejbri could get his chance before the 2020/21 season comes to a close. Especially if we are in the position of holding players back to save them for FA Cup and Europa League finals.
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