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Manchester United close to full strength for trip to Newcastle

Manchester United have 25 outfield players available for their next Premier League fixture away to Newcastle United on December 27.

Two games have already been postponed on Boxing Day, as per BBC Sport, but United travel to Newcastle a day later, with the game set to go ahead.

Our previous two matches in the Premier League were postponed against Brentford and Brighton due to the COVID-19 outbreak within the club, so it’s been two weeks since we took three points from Norwich City.

United also closed their training ground last Thursday, with the players starting to return to training in staggered phases on Tuesday. They will train twice on Friday and Sunday before the trip to St James’ Park.

The only player unable to train as he recovers from injury is Paul Pogba, who is not expected to join his group of team-mates for another two weeks.

Ralf Rangnick will be using this time to assess his squad, in all departments, with reports suggesting he is already targeting a tall midfielder in the transfer market. It goes without saying that United will lose a lot of height if Pogba leaves in the summer, but the manager cannot properly assess a player who is still unavailable for selection.

“As you know, last week the last training session on Thursday, from there to today, we had eight few players and three goalkeepers and then we closed the training ground for four days in order to break the chain,” Rangnick said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.

“And today was the third day of training this week, we started on Tuesday, we trained yesterday and today, and today we have 25 field players, so quite apart from Paul Pogba, he’s the only one who’s still missing out, everyone else is on board. The development of the last week is extremely positive.

“We will train tomorrow and there will be a day off for the players on Christmas Day and then we have the last training session here on Sunday and will fly evening to Newcastle.

“As far as I could see today in training, they’re all in good shape, all the players did their homework, they had their schedule to train at home and all of them stick to that schedule and to that programme.

“So from what I saw from training today, I can say most of them if not all of them might be available. But I have to take some difficult decisions who will be in the squad and in the starting XI.”

There was no specific update on Raphael Varane, unless the media kept that section for the embargo (released at 10:30pm on Christmas night), but it wouldn’t surprise us if he started against Newcastle.

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