Marcus Rashford believes injured Paul Pogba will be a “massive miss” for Manchester United despite the strength in depth at Jose Mourinho’s disposal.
Old Trafford welcomed Champions League football for the first time in 657 days on Tuesday evening, when Romelu Lukaku and Rashford wrapped up a 3-0 victory against Basle following Marouane Fellaini’s first-half header. The Belgium midfielder, back from a calf injury, was brought off the bench just 19 minutes into the Group A opener after Pogba’s night was abruptly halted during an innocuous passage of play.
Having led United out as captain for the first time, a night that started as one to remember swiftly unravelled as the 24-year-old pulled up holding his hamstring after going into a challenge.
Mourinho’s initial prognosis was to expect Pogba will be out for a “few weeks”, although further assessment is required on a player who left Old Trafford on crutches.
Sunday’s return to Premier League action at home to Everton certainly looks out of the question and Rashford says United will understandably miss one of the stars of the early weeks of the season.
“That’s why you have such a strong squad,” the 19-year-old forward said.
“It’s good for the manager, it’s good for the players as well because we’re always playing for competition. But Paul’s going to be a massive miss and hopefully we can get him back fit as soon as possible.
“We have to play every game to win. If we want to be champions, then we have to win those types of games (like Sunday’s). It’s going to be difficult. Everton are a really strong team.
“They made some good signings in the summer and you know they’ve got strength all around the pitch so we have to come here and try and get the result.”
Rashford is confident of this weekend building on a “solid” start to Group A life against Basle. For the 19-year-old, it was a first taste of Champions League football and, like so many times before, a competition debut he capped with a goal.
Rashford has looked bright in the early weeks of the campaign but, much like Anthony Martial, has been unable to nail down a starting berth due to impressive attacking options the teenager believes are helping rather than hindering his development.
“It’s difficult when you’re in and out of the team, but we have to find the positives out of it and I think we have both done that,” the England international said.
“I think the competition is always positive competition because we’re improving each other every day when we’re in training and in the games we’re pushing each other more and more.
“It’s a bit of a headache for the manager but it is a good headache to have.”
Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard learned something from Wayne Rooney every day and believes Manchester United’s all-time top scorer will be welcomed back heartily when he returns with Everton.
This summer Rooney, 31, decided to end his decorated spell at Old Trafford in search of game time that was becoming less frequent under United boss Jose Mourinho.
Rooney secured a move back to Everton and has impressed on his return to Goodison Park, even retiring from international football with England to focus on life with his boyhood club.
The forward returns to Old Trafford for the first time this Sunday — a day before facing a charge of drink driving at Stockport Magistrates’ Court — and Lingard is thankful he could call him a team-mate.
“His experience in games, especially when you’re young,” Lingard pointed out. “If it’s only 1-0 it’s always hard to manage a game, and he knew what to do at times, especially towards the end of games.
“You learn every day from him. Of course (it is hard to follow him), he’s always going to be recognised as a legend at the club and he’ll get a great reception when he comes back,” he added.
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