Manchester United are likely to be without midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay against Southampton and are sweating on the fitness of Marcus Rashford, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted Pogba has not suffered a recurrence of the ankle injury that dogged him throughout last season but he is expected to be without the Frenchman for the third consecutive game.
McTominay is also due to miss the trip to St Mary’s Stadium after, like Pogba, he sat out training on Friday. Rashford, Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka did take part but they are being hampered by shoulder, back and ankle problems respectively.
Luke Shaw (hamstring) and Phil Jones (knee) remain sidelined but Jesse Lingard is available again after being forced to self-isolate after contact with someone with coronavirus.
Pogba missed almost two months at the start of last season with an ankle injury before developing another problem that required surgery in early January and kept him out until the Premier League restart in June.
However, when asked if Pogba had suffered a flare up of an old problem, Solskjaer said: “It’s a separate issue.
“Scott and Paul didn’t train this morning. They weren’t on the grass so they look very unlikely for the weekend.
“Marcus, Victor, Aaron came through the session today so hopefully they should be ok but still not 100 per cent.
“Luke has just started his rehab out on the grass but not with the team yet. Jesse’s back from his isolation period so he’s back with the group and had a couple of days training and Phil Jones is out until after Christmas sometime.”
After wins against Everton, West Bromwich and Istanbul Basaksehir, Solskjaer is targeting a fourth successive victory for only the second time in his reign as permanent United manager.
“Of course we want that run to continue but we know how well Southampton have done in the last year or so but still we have a good away record and I think we are up there since the turn of January, when we had some ins and outs, transfers - that was a big turning point for us,” Solskjaer said.
“Since then we have been pushing up the table and I think we are getting that consistency and this is a nice challenge and a good test for the team to see if we have really learnt our lessons from the games we played against them last season.”
Old Trafford will be denied the chance to host fans for the foreseeable future after Manchester was placed in tier three but Solskjaer said he was pleased United would be playing in front of 2,000 West Ham fans at the London Stadium next Saturday.
“I’m very pleased we’re making progress and we can let the fans in gradually,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we can’t wait to see our own fans at Old Trafford and know how long they’ve been waiting to watch the games live so these are steps in the right direction, even though we’re the away team it’s still creating an atmosphere in the game so we’re looking forward to it.”