Victor Lindelof has been dealing with an ongoing back injury since September 2020.
There were times it flared up, including critically, away against Istanbul Basaksehir, so United had to leave him out of the side and put in a defensive horror show which ultimately cost a Champions League knockout place.
As the season went on, United and Lindelof got better at dealing with the problem, with Eric Bailly mixing in regularly as a third option.
Now, with Raphael Varane set to arrive as competition and most probably his successor, Lindelof says the injury has finally cleared up.
The Sweden international told the club website: “I feel much better now. I’ve been working very hard on my back especially during the break. I struggled a lot with it last season and had to really play through it.
“I played a game and then would need to rest for a couple of days and then it was straight into another game. That was tough, but like I say I’ve been working very hard with different types of exercises and treatment, and I feel much better.”
The injury did not appear to impact Lindelof at Euro 2020, and now he has had an extra month to rest since Sweden’s elimination.
It is easy for Lindelof to say now that he feels the injury has cleared. But he will only truly know once games start being played again.
Before the derby in March, Lindelof told the club website that the injury was putting him in discomfort, but he was determined to play through it. He played a key role in that match, keeping a clean sheet as United won 2-0.
Despite Varane’s imminent arrival, Lindelof is in with a shot to play the first week of the season as he has had more preparation time and knows the Premier League well. He should feature in pre-season against Everton this weekend.
Hopefully Lindelof is right and his injury has totally gone, but it feels a little convenient that he should claim to be rid of it when his place is under threat.
Varane’s arrival means he will have to play better than ever in a United shirt, and even then, it may not be enough with the Frenchman likely to partner Harry Maguire.
At least if he is required on the first day of the season, Lindelof will be ready.
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