Ahead of Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Newcastle, manager Jose Mourinho has been given some mixed news in relation to his squad.
The Red Devils have endured a rocky spell since the beginning of October, dropping eight points in the league and trailing their city rivals by as many points.
The slump in goals and goalscoring opportunities appears to have coincided with the hamstring injury to pivotal midfielder Paul Pogba and the mini goal drought afflicting striker Romelu Lukaku.
Combined, United have gone from a goalscoring behemoth to a tentative and defensive-minded side that has had to eek out points that had previously come so readily.
With the Premier League on hiatus for the final World Cup qualifying fixtures this past two weeks, normal service will resume this weekend and United welcome Newcastle to Old Trafford on Saturday.
With two defeats and a draw from their last three league fixtures, fans will be looking to see their side return to winning ways and stop the rot that set in after a brilliant start to the season.
Now, ahead of the crucial clash with Rafael Benítez’s side, Mourinho has been given two contrasting pieces of team news.
First up some bad news for the Portuguese as it appears Pogba’s long-awaited return looks set to be delayed by at least one more fixture.
Having previously been eyeing a return for the Newcastle games, it is now being reported by the Telegraph that the game on Saturday comes just that little bit too soon for the France international.
Reluctant to rush the 24-year-old back and risk a reoccurrence of his injury, it now looks like Mourinho will have to do without the influential playmaker for another week.
In more positive news, it seems that United striker Lukaku has once again found his goalscoring touch. Playing Mexico in an international friendly at the weekend, the big man bagged a brace to take him level as the all-time leading goalscorer for Belgium.
With the drought seemingly over for the former Everton striker, fans will be hoping Lukaku can translate his international successes into similar results for United.
Without Pogba, United are certainly operating below their capabilities and Mourinho will surely be counting the seconds to his return. Hopefully, however, with his Belgian striker now back banging in the goals, they can get back to winning ways and keep their title ambitions alive.
Kick-off at Old Trafford on Saturday is at 5:30pm.