Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his press conference that Marcus Rashford is nowhere near a return.
He said via the club website: “I would hope Marcus is playing this season. It’ll just be touch-and-go towards the end. So hopefully we can go through and get through this tournament and prolong the season.
“It takes time. I’m not a doctor, but obviously I was hoping that he would recover quicker than it actually looks like he is going to be out for. So another few months definitely.”
Rashford suffered an injury in mid-January and was originally projected to be out until April. It’s looking now like May at the best case scenario.
On course to smash records
The timing of the injury was so frustrating for Rashford. He enjoyed a superb first half of the season.
He has scored 19 goals in all competitions, including 14 in the Premier League.
Rashford’s previous best in all competitions was 13 in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Finally it had all clicked and Rashford was developing into an elite goalscorer in the way Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2006/07 campaign saw him hit 23, after 12 the previous season. One year later he hit 42 goals.
The agonising element for Rashford is that he will never know just how prolific this season could have been.
He was on course to break the 30 goal barrier. No Manchester United striker has reached this figure since Robin Van Persie in 2012/13.
Rashford has already bettered his personal best, and can take some satisfaction from that, but he could have really smashed his own record by doubling it or more, while breaking an unwanted goalscoring run from United players in the post Ferguson era.
His encouraging start must fuel his determination to come back even stronger next season.
Blame must be split
The recriminations over Rashford’s injury must be split. While bad luck and an accident, his back injury was also avoidable.
There is no one person who should shoulder 100 per cent of the blame.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to take his share, for playing Rashford while already suffering an injury.
But there also have to be questions for the club’s medical team over why he was cleared to play in the first place.
The board are far from blameless either. If United had signed an extra striker last summer, to replace Romelu Lukaku, Rashford would not have been overplayed to the point where he sustained his injury.
Had the club brought in a striker on January 1 it also could have been avoided, but a lack of planning has helped contribute to Rashford’s season ending early.
We will never know just how prolific this season could have been.
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