Paul Pogba is set to be sidelined until at least after Christmas with the thigh injury he picked up on international duty with France and could be unavailable for up to three months, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Pogba has travelled to Dubai to begin his recovery after picking up the problem in a shooting drill during the international break.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more
– Soccer’s Misery Index: Man Utd left for dust by rivals
– Dawson: Is Pogba destined to walk away from Man Utd again?
He will miss United’s trip to Watford on Saturday and Solskjaer said it could be as long as 12 weeks before he is available again.
“It was a disappointing injury for Paul, a disappointing time for him of course,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday.
“Sometimes you hope, fingers crossed, for six or seven weeks and the worst case scenario is 10, 11, 12 weeks with muscle injuries like this.
“One thing I’m sure of is that Paul is determined to come back and give his best when he comes back and he’s already started that recovery with his own big mentality to come back stronger because Paul always has that personality to come back strong. Hopefully just after Christmas we can see him.”
He has come in for heavy criticism for his performances for United this season but Solskjaer insisted he will keep the captain’s armband while backing the 28-year-old to “prove his critics wrong.”
Maguire was branded “embarrassing” by former United midfielder Roy Keane after cupping his ears in celebration following his goal against Albania.
“I’ve not considered taking the captain’s armband away from him,” Solskjaer added. “He’s been an absolute stalwart for us on and off the pitch since he came in.
“His family, his club, we are all very happy with him and all back him and he’s such a top professional and he’s going to prove critics wrong.
“The so-called experts have their opinions and that’s their job to put their opinion that’s not something we have to worry too much about. As a true example of a Man United player Harry is always there for his team and his country.”
United head to Watford on Saturday on the back of a dismal run of run that has seen them lose six of their last 12 games.
Solskjaer’s team have only managed to keep two clean sheets all season and the Norwegian suggested he has been focusing on defending better during the international break.
“We’ve gone games where we’ve conceded chances, we can’t concede easy chances against any team,” he said.
“We’re playing against a Watford team who are well organised, very good at counter attacking and very good at set plays and focusing on this game you’ve got to make sure your defending is right and then that’s probably the dark side of the football that you know you have to work on and we have put a lot of things right.”