Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is unlikely to be fit for next week’s Europa League final against Villarreal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.
The 28-year-old central defender is making progress in recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against Aston Villa earlier this month and was pictured walking without crutches on Thursday.
However, Solskjaer was downbeat about his chances of being fit for the match against the Spanish side in the Polish city of Gdansk on Wednesday.
“He’s walking but it’s a long way from walking to running so, to be honest, I don’t think we’ll see him in Gdansk, no,” the Norwegian said.
“But, as I’ve said so many times, I’m going to give him until Tuesday night, the last training session, and see if he can try to be out there.
“Steadily but surely he’s improving but ligaments, they take time to heal.”
United’s defence has looked shaky in Maguire’s absence — they have lost two and drawn one of their past three Premier League games.
Solskjaer expects the England international to play an important role off the field even if, as expected, he does not make it for the final.
“He’s a very important person in the dressing room and a leader,” the United manager said. “Before the fans came in, I think you all heard him from the stands.
“He does still want the team to do well, of course. He’s organising even from the stands, which has been easy because it’s been so quiet.
“So, he’ll come, he’ll be in the dressing room, he’ll make sure everyone’s ready for the final.”
Solskjaer is planning a “few changes” for his side’s final Premier League game against Wolves on Sunday with second place wrapped up — the first time they have finished in the top four in back-to-back seasons since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
But he said the squad needed strengthening if United were to challenge neighbours and champions Manchester City.
“Of course we’re planning as we normally do,” Solskjaer said when asked about United’s transfer strategy.
“It’s not like ‘end of the season and let’s see what we’re doing’. That’s an ongoing process.
“Looking at the squad, the players who are going to stay, players who might be leaving and, as I’ve said a couple of times lately, I hope that we’re going to strengthen with a few.
“Two or three players we definitely need to challenge higher up in the table. We’re still too far behind to think that it’s just going to come by itself.”