Marcel Sabitzer has been called up for international duty by Austria despite missing Manchester United’s last two matches through injury.
The midfielder has been included in Ralf Rangnick’s squad for the forthcoming matches against Azerbaijan and Estonia.
He has missed the home clashes with Real Betis and Southampton with an unspecified injury problem, adding to the issues Erik ten Hag has in midfield.
With Casemiro suspended for the next four domestic matches, Sabitzer and perhaps the deployment of Bruno Fernandes in a deeper role is all that stands between a reunion of the ‘McFred’ midfield pairing.
Marcel Sabitzer called up by Austria despite injury
Rangnick did not shed much light on Sabitzer at his press conference which accompanied the announcement of the squad.
He said: “That’s why we nominated 22 outfield players. We are prepared in the event that someone drops out.”
It would be good if Sabitzer was back for the return leg against Betis, or perhaps more importantly given Casemiro’s absence, Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham.
Sabitzer’s inclusion in Austria’s initial plans provides some potential cause for optimism on that score, compared to Alejandro Garnacho, who has already been ruled out of Argentina duty with the injury he picked up on Sunday.
On the other hand, it could just be that Austria have called him up to look at the injury for themselves before making a proper decision on his inclusion.
Of course, United do not want Sabitzer making his injury worse on international duty if he is made to play through the pain in two games Austria should be able to win without him.
But if they are able to manage him carefully and continue his return to fitness, it could help him be even sharper to replace Casemiro after the international break.
United already have Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek out longer term, although the Dane should be able to chip in between now and the end of the season.