Rangnick gives fitness update ahead of United's FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough

Ralf Rangnick has conducted his pre-match press conference ahead of Manchester United’s return to action.

United host Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night, and Rangnick faced reporters at the briefing which was streamed at 2pm on United’s official app.

He was asked for a fitness update and said that Edinson Cavani, Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard and Eric Bailly will miss the game for a variety of reasons.

There was better news on Paul Pogba, who Rangnick said could even return to the starting eleven against Chris Wilder’s side.

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“Paul will be part of the group,” said Rangnick “He might even be in the starting XI. There are still a couple of players missing out. Edi Cavani will only return on the weekend. He contacted me a week ago and asked me if he could have two more days at home.

“I allowed him because I knew that he couldn’t be in the starting XI anyway, with jet-lag and only coming back today or last night. So he won’t be part of the group. 

“Victor Lindelof has been ill the whole week and not training. So he will also miss out tomorrow’s game. The same is true with Jesse [Lingard], he asked me and the club if we could give him a couple of days off, just to clear up his mind.

“He will be back in the group I suppose next Monday, back for training, and then be a regular part of the whole squad again. Eric Bailly came back yesterday. He has some problems, a swollen ankle, and will therefore not be a part of the squad tomorrow.”

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

The central defensive options mean that it will be between Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Phil Jones for who gets a start at the heart of the backline.

Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be called upon with Cavani out and Anthony Martial now on loan at Sevilla.

It is frustrating for Bailly to suffer yet another injury problem, adding to the disappointment of missing the crucial penalty in the Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations exit.

This match might have been an opportunity for Lingard to get some gametime if Rangnick did make changes but that will of course not be happening now.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.