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Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba absence provides unlikely pre-season boost for Man Utd

Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
 2021-07-19

Following the fallout from the recent European Championship and Copa America, some of United's top players have been given extra time off ahead of the new campaign.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, and Paul Pogba are not due back in training until the beginning of next week - meaning they'll miss this weekend's friendly with QPR.

The temporary absence of that heavyweight midfield trio has given an opportunity for some of United's fledgling young stars to impress Solskjaer.

Hannibal Mejbri is one of those starlets who could be set to benefit after a cameo appearance against Derby County at the weekend.

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Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba aren't due to return to Manchester United training for another week (Image: REUTERS)

The 18-year-old Tunisian midfielder only featured briefly in the 2-1 win at Derby on Saturday, but it's expected he will get more time to impress as United's pre-season program gears up.

Mejbri has shone in the U23s set up at Old Trafford, but Solskjaer will now take the opportunity to run the rule over his progression during the next couple of weeks.

A meeting with newly-promoted Brentford next Wednesday should also come too soon for the likes of Fernandes and Pogba, possibly giving Mejbri another chance to shine.

However, competition will be fierce even without the likes of Fernandes and Pogba.

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Hannibal Mejbri with Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer after signing his new deal in March (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata are two of the men likely to be competing with Mejbri for a berth in pre-season.

With Lingard returning to Manchester off the back of a sparkling loan spell at West Ham United, the England man will be keen to impress.

Mejbri, who made his United debut at Wolves on the final day of last season, is already a viral sensation amongst Reds' fans who will be keen to see if he can make an impression on the senior team before the new campaign begins.

The midfielder made his own international debut for Tunisia last month after the national team prised him away from France, who he'd represented at youth level.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Jesse Lingard, who is keen to make a pre-season impression himself (Image: Action Images via Reuters)

Mejbri signed a new three-year deal at Old Trafford back in March, and it seems as though United have eyes on him as Fernandes' long-term successor.

Although a first-team spot may seem some way off, Solskjaer has already shown that age is no barrier to selection in his United side.

Mason Greenwood made his breakthrough into the first team at the tender age of just 17 and is a regular in the side just two years on.

The next couple of months are likely to dictate whether Mejbri will remain at Old Trafford in the short-term as a supporting star, or whether he will follow in the footsteps of teammate Tahith Chong, who has just agreed a season-long loan to Birmingham City in the Championship.

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