There are few sights rarer than Edinson Cavani in a Manchester United shirt this season.
The only ones to miss him more are Uruguay, after he chose not to travel for the September internationals amid regulations requiring he would be held back 10 days after to quarantine.
As it happened, Cavani then suffered an injury in United training and has been out since.
Right now, Uruguay are attempting to figure out the logistics of whether Cavani will be able to feature in their three World Cup qualifying matches in October.
With the international break a fortnight away, work is ongoing behind the scenes to work out if Cavani will be able to fly out.
Newspaper El Observador report Uruguay’s football federation (the AUF) is working on two fronts.
The first is with the Uruguayan government to liaise with the British government in an attempt to get Uruguay taken off the UK’s ‘red list’ of overseas countries.
If Uruguay moves to an ‘amber list’ or a green one, then the 10 day quarantine rule upon Cavani’s return would not apply.
The second added complication is that one of Uruguay’s games is away at Brazil.
Brazil’s qualifier with Argentina was abandoned due to a farcical row over lack of quarantine for players who had travelled from the UK.
On behalf of Uruguay, Conmebol is seeking assurances from the Brazilian government that this won’t happen again. But clearly, the matter is complicated.
Cavani is on a list of players Uruguay want to call up and coach Oscar Tabarez has to name his squad in around 10 days time, with the first fixture on October 8 at home to Colombia. Away matches at Argentina and Brazil follow.
These are three of the toughest games Uruguay will face in qualifying and it is understandable that (a) they want Cavani and (b) he will want to be involved.
Uruguay do reportedly have a contingency, with up to 10 alternative forwards identified including two domestic based players.
Will Cavani even be fit to play?
Cavani’s lack of fitness has meant he has not featured for United since the 36 minutes he played in August away at Wolves.
Concerns over Cavani’s fitness are referenced in the El Observador report, along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s quotes on the striker this week.
Speaking to MUTV before the West Ham game, Solskjaer said: “He has not trained enough to be part of this. He is working hard and he knows his body better than anyone. He will put his hand up when he is ready.”
United have three games upcoming before the break. At home to Aston Villa then Villarreal then away at Everton.
Anything is possible at this point. He could be pictured in training later today and make the squad at the weekend or next week, or he could not be seen at all before the break and then fly out to Uruguay anyway.
How will United be impacted?
If Cavani did head to Uruguay without featuring for United it would be seen as frustrating, although it might not be terrible for him to get some games to get his match fitness up for when he returns.
The problem remains whether he will have to quarantine and for how long.
Uruguay’s final match of the break is the Brazil tie in the early hours of Friday October 15.
United are due to face Leicester City in the Premier League at 3pm on Saturday October 16. Even without quarantine, Cavani would not be passed fit to play.
Subsequent matches are Atalanta at Old Trafford in the Champions League on October 20, and Liverpool at home on October 24.
If Cavani were to fly out and the 10 days quarantine day imposed, Cavani would miss both games. With a five day quarantine he would miss the Champions League tie.
The best case scenario for United is that Cavani stays put again to concentrate on his fitness. Whether he sees it that way due to the magnitude of the international fixtures, is another matter.
He may feel that having skipped one round of games, he should be there this time, and that may always have been his intention. But ultimately his choice will be guided by his fitness.
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