Manchester United will get their 2021/22 Premier League campaign underway on Saturday afternoon when they lock horns with Leeds United at Old Trafford.
United, who beat Leeds 6-2 in this fixture last season, rounded off their pre-season preparations with a thumping 4-0 victory over Everton last Saturday, meaning they will head into the contest with Marcelo Bielsa’s side in a confident mood.
The meeting with Leeds could present Jadon Sancho with the opportunity to make his United debut following his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund, whilst Raphael Varane could also feature if his move to the club is completed in time.
However, United chief Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does have a cluster of injury worries and absences to contend with.
Below, MEN Sport has taken a close look at all the very latest on the injury front at Old Trafford.
Goalkeeper Henderson is in serious danger of missing the opener with Leeds as he continues to recover from Covid-19.
The former Sheffield United loanee, who was forced to pull out of the England squad over the summer through injury, tested positive for the virus nearly a month ago but is still struggling.
Speaking last week, United boss Solskjaer said: “Dean was positive early on. He’s negative in his testing but he has not felt as energised and sharp as he normally has done, so he still feels fatigued and is feeling the after-effects.
“You never know. You’ve seen so many effects of this virus, he’s still got a few days to rest and then we’ll check up on him.”
Solskjaer is likely to provide a further update on him ahead of the clash with the Whites.
Return date: Not set.
Few players have suffered on the injury front in the last 18 months more so than forgotten centre-back Jones. The former Blackburn Rovers ace has not featured for United since the FA Cup fourth-round triumph over Tranmere Rovers in January 2020.
But after so long on the sidelines, the 29-year-old defender has now returned to training.
However, considering that he has not featured at all in pre-season, as confirmed by Solskjaer last month, he will need to rediscover his fitness by playing at Under-23s level first.
Return date: Once he has gained fitness through U23s football.
Brazilian left-back Telles, formerly of FC Porto, is going to miss the start of the season after picking up an ankle injury last month in training.
He is expected to be sidelined for the whole of the first month of the campaign, with Solskjaer recently admitting that the news was “worse than we hoped for.” Telles was pictured on crutches almost a fortnight ago.
Return date: September.
Like Henderson, midfield ace Lingard is also on the comeback trail after testing positive for Covid-19.
The former West Ham United loanee returned a positive test ahead of last Saturday’s 4-0 win over Everton, meaning he will not be available in time to face Leeds because of the Government guidelines he has to follow regarding self-isolating after testing positive.
A statement released by United last weekend read: “Unfortunately, Jesse Lingard is unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19. He is isolating in line with Government and Premier League Guidelines.”
He could return for United’s trip to Southampton in just over a week’s time if all goes to plan.
Return date: August 22.
Rashford will miss up to two months of the new season after taking the decision to undergo shoulder surgery.
The United academy graduate played through Euro 2020 with both his shoulder problem and a foot injury, so some time out of the firing line will serve him well in the long-run.
Earlier this week the United forward confirmed that his operation had gone well.
“Thank you for all the well wishes,” he said in a Twitter post. “I had my surgery on Friday morning and everything went very well.
“A little sore but other than that I’m feeling good. Hope you’re all having a great day!”
Return date: Late September/early October.
Uruguay international Cavani will miss the opening day clash with Leeds after having an extended break over the summer after his involvement at Copa America.
Cavani has been working hard on his fitness levels at home in his own gym, but it is not yet clear which quarantine rules will apply to him once he returns to the UK.
It is currently unknown just when he will return to training.
Return date: Late August/early September.
Elsewhere, Eric Bailly will not feature this weekend after competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with the Ivory Coast.