Mauricio Pochettino says tomorrow’s game against Manchester United will come too soon for Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia.
The duo, who signed this summer, have been absent for several months now. Pochettino had hoped Nkunku might be available following the November international break, but his return from a serious knee injury continues to be carefully managed. He provided the latest on both players at his media conference today.
‘Tomorrow is still too soon,’ the head coach said.
‘We hope [Nkunku will be available] soon. It’s about assessing injured players day by day.
‘Sometimes, we become excited when we see players on the pitch, as we want to have them as soon as possible. But we need to be careful and, of course, when he is ready he will be with the squad.
‘Romeo is doing well but like Christo isn’t going to be involved,’ added Pochettino.
There were two fresh faces on today’s injury update, Lesley Ugochukwu and Noni Madueke. Pochettino was asked what was wrong with them.
Ugochukwu and Madueke injury latest
‘Lesley felt something last week, it’s a minor injury. Noni, after Sunday against Brighton, also has a minor problem.
‘We hope that soon they will be available to train and available for the team.’
We head to Old Trafford tomorrow without a win there since 2013. Manchester United come into the game off the back of two disappointing results away from home, but prior to that they had won three league fixtures on the spin.
Meeting Man United
Media reports this week have suggested problems behind the scenes at Old Trafford, but Pochettino was quick to explain why he does not believe this is a particularly good moment to be meeting Manchester United.
‘We cannot change the time. It’s always good to play at Old Trafford because it’s an amazing stadium, fans, team, and club. It’s a great opportunity to play there and we are at a similar level, but with different situations.
‘I don’t say it’s a good moment to go there, the most important thing is to be ready to compete because we’re going to face a team that is going to be tough and wants to win.
‘But we want to keep our momentum, build from Brighton, and be higher in the table. For us that’s important. If we want to be in a different position, it’s a game we have to go and try to win.’
Dilemmas in midfield
With Ugochukwu injured and Conor Gallagher suspended, Pochettino was also asked what solution he was going to find in our midfield tomorrow.
‘It’s not going to change too much. If you see the squad available tomorrow, it’s not difficult to see what my decisions will be. There are going to be many young guys involved from the Academy.
‘There are not too many options, but I am happy. I am sure we are going to do a good game.’