Nemanja Matic

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Man Utd team news, injury updates ahead of Barcelona clash

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Manchester United are nearing a return to full(er) strength after yet another lengthy injury crisis, but the majority of those closest to seeing the field are still likely to miss out on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Solskjaer “cannot see” Paul Pogba leaving Man United this summer ]

Chief among them is Marcus Rashford, who happens to be closest to returning to game action. Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed on Tuesday that Rashford participated in a portion of first-team training 24 hours before the clash at Old Trafford, but the 21-year-old sounds a 50-50 doubt at best — quotes from the BBC:

“Hopefully he will be ready. He needed extra warm-up and hopefully he won’t get a reaction. He joined part of (training) at the end, but he couldn’t join the fun part of training.”

Meanwhile, Nemanja Matic is a long shot to feature after he was an unused substitute during the defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers and was then unable to train now a week later.

[ MORE: Klopp enjoying pressure of title race, “loves this season much more” ]

Ander Herrera is “probably out,” according to Solskjaer, while Alexis Sanchez has been officially ruled out of consideration to face his former club on Wednesday.

On a somewhat positive note, full backs Luke Shaw (two games) and Ashley Young (one game) will be available once again despite being suspended from domestic competition.

Matic misses Liverpool fight, out for weeks

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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic suffered “a nasty knock” in training Saturday and will miss 2-4 weeks of action

Matic, 30, has started every match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at United.

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He’s been replaced by Scott McTominay for Sunday’s match versus Liverpool, with Fred joining the bench to provide cover.

Ander Herrera could also slide into a more defensive role, but the Spaniard has been very good with increased attacking freedom under Solskjaer.

In addition to the Liverpool visit, United’s next month of fixtures includes the second leg of a UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain as well as league tests from Crystal Palace, Southampton, Arsenal and Wolves.

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Manchester United

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Nemanja Matic gets a rare start at center back when Manchester United visits Southampton on Saturday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

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Scott McTominay also will feature for United, who played at midweek in the Champions League.

Saints start Michael Obafemi up top and also use 19-year-old Yan Valery.

LINEUPS

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Stephens, Armstrong, Lemina, Redmond, Hojbjerg, Valery, Obafemi. Subs: Gunn, Hoedt, Davis, Austin, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Gabbiadini.

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Jones, Matic, Shaw, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Dalot, Rojo, Fred, Lingard, Mata, Martial.

Matic explains why he will not wear poppy

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Nemanja Matic has revealed why he will not wear a poppy on his shirt in the next few weeks.

The Manchester United and Serbia midfielder was the only player not to wear an embroidered poppy on his shirt in the 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday, with many puzzled as to why this was the case.

Premier League clubs wear a poppy on their shirt to honor all of those who have served the British military and their allies over the years. Many citizens of the UK wear the poppy around Remembrance Day in November each year.

However Matic revealed that due to his hometown of Vrelo being bombed by Nato forces when he was growing up, he doesn’t feel comfortable wearing the poppy.

“I recognize fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict. However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999. Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don’t feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt,” Matic said. “I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined.”

Matic was criticized by many for not wearing a poppy and although you have to respect his reasons, the Serbian midfielder has worn a poppy on his shirt every season he has been playing in England with either Chelsea or United.

James McClean has not worn a poppy due to his Irish heritage and has been lambasted by fans across the UK for that decision since 2011 when he arrived at Sunderland. The former Premier League winger now plays with second-tier Stoke City and he is currently under investigation by the FA for his recent comments regarding his decision to not wear a poppy after Stoke’s game against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Allegri: Juventus tried to ‘attack around Nemanja Matic’

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Max Allegri’s plan to attack without Mario Mandzukic got the job done.

Juventus took a 17th minute lead against Manchester United at Old Trafford and did not look back, deprived of a multi-goal halftime lead by United backstop David De Gea.

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Without Mandzukic, his towering talisman, Allegri turned to less hold-up play and more active runs through the midfield.

And he wasn’t shy about the tactics, with the numbers showing that Nemanja Matic was a very busy man. From Football-Italia:

“Naturally we can play without Mandzukic, someone has to get into the box. It was important against Manchester United to keep the ball to ground and attack around Nemanja Matic.

“We still make too many mistakes on the final ball, as we had so many more chances and half-chances that we didn’t develop properly. A couple of times it was the player with the ball, another couple it was the player who didn’t peel away from his marker to reach the space.”

Allegri has long been said to be a fan of Matic’s, but Dybala shook the center midfielder on this goal.

The win was Juve’s first at Old Trafford since a 1996 visit in the Champions League. All told, Juve is 2W-2D-3L at Manchester United in its illustrious history.