Manchester United captain Harry Maguire warned his team-mates they must improve when the Red Devils go head-to-head with Sheffield United in a blockbuster Premier League showdown.

United – fifth in the standings – will welcome seventh-placed Sheffield United to Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men two points better off in the race for Champions League qualification.

Maguire and United are two points behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot after Friday's 1-1 draw at Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

United have already faced Sheffield United this season, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November following Oli McBurnie's 90th-minute equaliser and Maguire has called for an improved performance.

"It was a crazy game," Maguire, who played for boyhood club Sheffield United between 2011 and 2014, told The United Review. "We were really poor in the first half. No doubt about it, it was one of our poorest first halves of the season.

"We managed to find ourselves two goals down but then got in a great position and looked like we were going to win.

"They didn't really create any chances in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the game and then, obviously with the last kick, they found space and it was a good finish from Oli McBurnie.

"In the end, it was a tough result to take but I don't think we deserved any more on the day than a point. We weren't good enough and know we have to perform better in this game."

The Blades' visit to the Theatre of Dreams will be the first at Old Trafford behind closed doors following the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's disappointing not to play in front of your fans but, one day, they'll be back," said England defender Maguire. "And, when they're back, I am sure the atmosphere is going to be even better and louder than it normally is at Old Trafford – if you can beat that.

"We're going to miss the fans. Home and away, they follow in great numbers and the support is incredible. But we know they're going to be in front of their TV screens, watching us, shouting us along, and the main thing is we want to put smiles back on their faces."

United have gone 12 matches undefeated in all competitions since losing to Burnley in January and Maguire added: "Maybe it does take away the home fans making the atmosphere uncomfortable for the away team, but it's still about the 11 players who turn up on the day.

"There is enough talent in our squad to go and beat anyone. We're fully focused on ourselves and are not looking at it being home or away. We're just seeing every game as a chance to try to get the three points and perform at our best."

Bruno Fernandes believes there is more to come from his fledgling midfield partnership with Paul Pogba at Manchester United.

Fernandes made an instant impact at Old Trafford after joining from Sporting CP in January and his effort from the penalty spot in Friday's 1-1 draw at Tottenham was his third goal in six Premier League appearances.

Pogba won the penalty and his introduction from the bench after the hour mark injected United with fresh impetus.

It was the France international's first outing since Boxing Day in a season ruined by foot injuries, but Fernandes is hopeful their understanding will grow in tandem under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"When we were training in groups I was in the group with Paul, so to find the connection is easier," he told Sky Sports.

"But I found a good connection with everyone and the most important thing is the team. 

"I think Paul thinks the same [as me] and we are happy. Paul won the penalty, I kicked it. The most important thing is the team. It doesn't matter who scores, or the assist, or anything. 

"As a team we need to look for the Champions League. We need to try to be close to try to catch the guys who are in front.

"Unfortunately we are [only] one point closer, but they need to play. We'll see."

United are fifth in the table but will fall five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with nine matches remaining if Frank Lampard's side are able to beat relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Sunday.

Manchester United could be edging closer to landing Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

Chiesa, 22, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Serie A club, where he came through the youth system.

And the Italy international could be on his way to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD GETTING CLOSER TO CHIESA

Manchester United are pushing for Chiesa and their latest offer could be enough to start proper negotiations, according to La Nazione.

Chiesa has also been linked with Juventus and Inter with his contract in Florence running until 2022.

A 17-time Italy international, Chiesa has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 26 games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Joao Felix has yet to hit top form at Atletico Madrid. Goal reports the LaLiga club turned down a £135million (€150m) offer from a Premier League side earlier this season.

- Chelsea could yet strengthen further. The Daily Express says they are in talks to sign Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, who is said to be valued at £80m. Chelsea will have Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrive at the club ahead of next season.

- David Luiz's future at Arsenal remains uncertain following his horror show against Manchester City on Wednesday. According to the Daily Mail, the Brazilian defender wants a two-year deal, rather than the one being offered. Luiz is coming out of contract at the end of the month.

- Could Edin Dzeko's time at Roma be coming to an end? Corriere dello Sport reports Roma need to qualify for the Champions League to keep the striker at the club. Dzeko is contracted until 2022, while Roma are three points behind fourth-placed Atalanta in Serie A.

- Morgan Schneiderlin is set to return to France. RMC Sport says the midfielder will leave Everton to join Nice, returning to Ligue 1 for the first time since 2008.

- Staying at Goodison Park and Everton have joined the race for Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu, according to the Mirror.

Jose Mourinho felt he had "no bench to react" during Tottenham's 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester United on Friday.

Bruno Fernandes' 81st-minute penalty cancelled out Steven Bergwijn's goal as Spurs and United returned to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

United were also awarded an even later penalty, but a VAR check reversed the on-field call.

But Mourinho rued a lack of options off the bench, with the absences of Dele Alli and Lucas Moura hurting Spurs' depth in attack.

"I liked the team attitude, the team organisation, the control, the following of a plan, being very solid, giving to United what they don't like, really happy with that," the Spurs head coach told Sky Sports.

"I'm unhappy with the fact that the way I was reading the game, I had no bench to react to it.

"With Lucas and Dele Alli, they would be on the bench or playing, then I would have had on the bench some of our attacking players, because they become more dominant because we tired up front. By being tired we couldn't press, making it easier for them to build.

"At the same time, we couldn't be dangerous on the counter-attack because we had no legs for that. It was hard for us to manage the game in that sense.

"I'm also not happy with the penalty and I'm also not happy with the second penalty. I'm unhappy with the VAR, not the referee. The referee in the game can make a mistake, give a cheap penalty. But then the VAR is there to do the job. I'm not unhappy with [Jonathan] Moss, I'm unhappy with the VAR.

"With the second penalty, I'm unhappy with Moss because he didn't give the free-kick on Serge Aurier, again giving a cheap penalty, a non-penalty. In this case, the VAR gave the truth over what happened in the box."

While Mourinho lamented his lack of options, United introduced Paul Pogba, who was fouled for the penalty converted by Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Odion Ighalo off the bench.

"United had it, Spurs did not. It was not just Pogba. They had Paul, they had Greenwood, they had Ighalo," Mourinho said.

"If they wanted to decide, they could have had Jesse [Lingard], who can change the face of the game, or one in short spaces who can find something really good.

"That's what five changes can [do] with a powerful bench with options."

Ahead of facing West Ham on Tuesday, Spurs are eighth in the table – four points behind fifth-placed Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels Paul Pogba has the chance to enjoy a fresh start at Manchester United after impressing as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

Making his first appearance since December 26 due to a foot injury, Pogba was fouled by Eric Dier for the penalty that was converted by Bruno Fernandes to bring United level in the 81st minute.

The Frenchman demonstrated flashes of his ability during the cameo off the bench, while a potential midfield combination with January addition Fernandes showed early signs of promise.

Solskjaer praised the impact of his subs against Spurs but was particularly pleased for Pogba, who has made just five Premier League appearances in a 2019-20 season that has now resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think the performance second half deserved a point, or three points. The players that came on I thought made a difference," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"Of course Paul's contribution is there to be seen – he played the pass of the day when he played Marcus [Rashford] through, then had the skill of the day when he won the penalty. 

"Paul's one of the best in the world and it's great to have him back. It's good to give him minutes and he will work hard to get even fitter for the next time, to play even more.

"He's delighted to be back on the pitch. He's had a nine or 10-month injury nightmare. It's not like he's been out for 10 months. He's almost come back, work hard, work hard, and then gets injured again. 

"He was close to coming back before the lockdown and now finally he’s back playing. I'm sure everyone can see he has a great hunger for the game and is a very good footballer."

When asked if this is a fresh start for the World Cup winner at the club, the United boss replied: "I think so. 

"Coming into this team, it's a different team to the one he left with his injury. Bruno has come in, the boys have got some momentum before the lockdown and we are more confident, even though for the first 45 minutes we doubted ourselves too much. 

"The boys need to trust themselves more, trust their own fitness. They have worked so incredibly hard, and I think we saw second half that we were fit and can keep on running."

Fernandes has now been involved in six league goals since moving to Old Trafford, scoring three. Solskjaer admitted the key is to make sure both the Portuguese playmaker and Pogba can prosper in the same line-up.

"We are a club who want the best players in the world playing together," the Norwegian said on the duo.

"We just need to find the right balance, attacking and defending. That's always a key word when you're set a team up. I think today Paul showed he can play with Bruno, and Bruno has scored a penalty for us and got a goal." 

Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Tottenham means they are unbeaten in 12 matches in all competitions, scoring 30 and conceding three in that time. 

They have progressed through that run mostly without Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, two standout stars who returned to action in north London on Friday only because the coronavirus pandemic gave them time to recover from injuries. 

They are still fifth in the Premier League, two points behind Chelsea having played a game more, meaning hopes of a Champions League return are very much alive regardless of their Europa League campaign, which resumes in August. 

By all accounts, those are satisfactory truths about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. But an emboldened attack since the January signings of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo and a stronger defensive unit have glossed over a glaring problem: they can no longer rely on David de Gea. 

Before Friday, the last league goal United had conceded – the only one they had conceded since January 22 – came in the 1-1 draw at Everton in March. With his first meaningful act of the game, De Gea dithered on the ball and let Dominic Calvert-Lewin block his kick into the United net. He was rescued by Fernandes' equaliser. 

When he was United manager, Jose Mourinho hinted De Gea could sometimes lose concentration when the action is far from his goal, and you have to wonder if he had told his Spurs players to test the Spain international – described by Roy Keane as the most overrated goalkeeper he has seen “in a long time” during a half-time tirade – at the earliest opportunity.

The home side took only their second shot on target after 27 minutes of mostly United control, but it was enough to beat De Gea. Steven Bergwijn ran straight towards Harry Maguire and left him for dead – a deeply humbling moment for the world's most expensive centre-back – and shot fiercely but directly at the United goalkeeper. He could not keep it out. 

De Gea would then make a fine one-handed save from Son Heung-min to various social media proclamations that he had "made amends", which is a goalkeeping misconception. A striker can miss a chance at 0-0 and make up for it with a breakthrough goal a minute later, but De Gea's good save did not erase the fact United were behind. Such is life for a keeper. 

Whether or not Mourinho planned for a Dea Gea error, he would certainly have accepted a 1-0 half-time lead. The fact he builds his team around Moussa Sissoko rather than Harry Kane might not enthrall the viewer, but it does make Spurs a troublesome side to break down, something United have struggled to do against deep-lying defences all season. 

That's what makes Pogba such a potentially pivotal player in their final eight matches. He came on for 27 minutes, his first action since last December, and his first act was a sliding tackle to rob Serge Aurier near the Spurs box. Put the questions on his future to one side for now; a World Cup winner who has made only eight league appearances all season just wants to play. 

With Marcus Rashford ineffective and Anthony Martial anonymous, it was Pogba and Fernandes, paired in midfield at last, who carried United's threat. Fittingly, it was their combination that brought about the equaliser, Pogba's quick feet leading Eric Dier into a cumbersome challenge and Fernandes thwacking home the penalty. 

Doubts have persisted about De Gea for the best part of two years and the debate over his future as United's number one will continue. What is certain is United need Pogba's game-changing influence if they are to make sure any future blunders at the other end do not derail their season.

Bruno Fernandes converted a late penalty won by Paul Pogba to secure Manchester United a 1-1 draw away at top-four rivals Tottenham on Friday.

Steve Bergwijn's 26th-minute opener appeared set to give Jose Mourinho a much-needed victory over his former employers as Spurs aim to make a late charge to qualify for next season's Champions League.

However, United were rewarded for an improved second-half display with an equaliser, Pogba - on as a substitute as he returned after a long injury lay-off - producing a burst into the box that tempted a rash challenge from Eric Dier.

Fernandes showed excellent composure to fire home from 12 yards out, sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way, as the visitors extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games. 

It appeared the Portuguese would have the chance to score again from the spot when referee Jonathan Moss adjudged he had been fouled by Dier, but a VAR check reversed the on-field call.

Roy Keane said he was "sick to death" of David de Gea and "staggered" by Harry Maguire after their part in Steven Bergwijn's first-half goal for Tottenham against Manchester United.

The Red Devils went 1-0 down in north London in their first Premier League match since the coronavirus pandemic forced the competition to be suspended in March.

A simple long ball headed away by Luke Shaw came to Bergwijn, who ran straight past Maguire before firing a shot at De Gea that the United keeper failed to parry away.

Former captain Keane was left furious with the manner of the goal and claimed he would not have allowed them to travel home with the team if he were still playing.

"I'm shocked at that goal," he said at half-time on Sky Sports. "To give away that goal… I'm fuming here watching Manchester United.

"I can't believe Shaw, heading the ball up in the air and then running forward. I'm staggered at Maguire, staggered that an international player can just get done like that.

"And I'm sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fighting him at half-time. I would be swinging punches at that guy.

"This is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted.

"Maguire and De Gea – I wouldn't even let them on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester. They are established international players. We can analyse this until the cows come home. You just do your job.

"We are trying to get in the top four here, not win leagues. God forbid about winning trophies. I'm disgusted with it. Maguire, De Gea, you should hang your heads in shame."

Keane added of De Gea, who made a fine one-handed save to stop Son Heung-min making it 2-0: "He is the most overrated goalkeeper I have seen in a long time."

Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford start for Tottenham and Manchester United respectively in Friday's pivotal Premier League clash between the two clubs.

Spurs striker Kane has not featured since tearing his hamstring in his side's 1-0 defeat to Southampton at the start of the year.

As for Rashford, a back injury sidelined him prior to the coronavirus-enforced break to the season.

However, with a delayed finish to the 2019-20 campaign due to the pandemic, both England internationals are fit again and available for a fixture between teams with Champions League aspirations.

Spurs sit eighth in the table, four points behind their fifth-placed opponents.

Jose Mourinho is also able to select Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn in an attacking Spurs line-up as the Portuguese goes up against his former employers.

His replacement at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has Paul Pogba available again. The Frenchman is among the United substitutes, with Scott McTominay given the nod alongside Bruno Fernandes and Fred in midfield.

But Pogba's compatriot Anthony Martial makes the starting XI, joining Rashford and Daniel James in attack.

Paul Pogba has been urged by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to replicate the leadership qualities he showed with France when he returns for Manchester United.

The 27-year-old midfielder has made just eight appearances in all competitions for United this term and has been out since December, having undergone ankle surgery in the new year.

However, he is ready to return when United resume their Premier League campaign at Tottenham on Friday after the coronavirus-enforced break.

Pogba's form has been indifferent since he returned to Old Trafford for a then-world record fee of £89.3million in 2016, yet his quality and leadership attributes were evident when he played a key role in Les Bleus' triumph at Russia 2018.

"Paul has had his difficult season this year with loads of injuries but I can see his mentality and focus now that he is fit and training and available, that he is ready to play again and to prove," Solskjaer told a news conference.

"He has always had quality, Paul. He is one of the best midfielders in the world so hopefully we can get that going as soon as possible.

"I want the same from Paul as from all the others.

"Paul is one of the best midfielders in the world so we expect him to gradually improve as he gets more and more game time.

"Gradually over these next few months we can work him up back to his best. Paul has had a very good career. He is a World Cup winner and we want to have that leadership on the pitch as well.

"I am very happy with the squad. The five of them [midfielders], any of them would be capable of playing a full season at Man United and being a regular so it's given me, not a problem, but a nice challenge to choose and pick the right ones when they are in the right form when they are against the right opponents.

"Paul getting back fit can only help us because he does have qualities that no one else has."

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford deserves recognition on the United Kingdom's honours list for his charity work, Kick It Out's Troy Townsend says.

Rashford has been widely praised for his effort to ensure vulnerable young people have access to free meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-year-old partnered with FareShare and helped to raise £20million to provide three million free meals to those in need before turning his focus onto a similar problem in UK schools.

Thanks to his campaigning on social media and direct appeal to MPs, the government decided to go back on their decision not to extend the scheme for free school meals for underprivileged children into the summer months and committed to spending £120m to ensure those vouchers would stay available.

Townsend, who was a teacher with first-hand experience of the importance of work like Rashford's before he joined anti-discrimination body Kick it Out, is proud of the way footballers have responded during the COVID-19 crisis to raise money and awareness for valuable causes.

He now wants Rashford's efforts to be recognised in the right way.

"What I like is the maturity in the way he talks," Townsend, who is Kick It Out's head of development, told Stats Perform News. "You can put statements out and you can write tweets and you can think, 'Well, someone's done that for him', and that's been labelled at players in the past.

"But when you hear him talking about this issue, his understanding is from what he lived. He's an old head on young shoulders: the innocence is still there because he's a 22-year-old who is developing into his life, but the maturity and the way he talks, because of this experience, has been amazing.

"I've been tweeting for the last three or four days – there's got to be a knighthood coming along here, or whatever it is. We question our sports people, individuals, not just football but predominantly football because of the status it has, we question them, we question them. This man has stepped up to the plate and then some. I don't think he wants the plaudits that maybe he's getting, but the least we can do is recognise that when the honours list comes back around.

"What this period of time has, I hope, really taught the players is that there is a lot of strength and power behind them, not just with what Marcus Rashford is doing but with what a number of players were doing, how they've collectively come together and made sure their money that they have donated is going to the right and relevant people, that they want it to go to. Marcus is the standout story among many stories. At the start of this pandemic, they were instantly painted with a bad brush and it was unfair because they were already working behind the scenes, seeing all the contributions the players make anyway, but wow, what a response."

Rashford was initially met with opposition from the government over his free school meals drive, but his persistence in generating support online eventually forced a policy U-turn.

Townsend thinks the cutthroat nature of professional football is what gives someone like Rashford that sort of determination, especially when fighting for a cause from which he benefitted as a child.

"It's instilled in footballers," he said. "If you make it in this game, somewhere along the line you've been released, you've been rejected, you've been told you're not good enough or you've suffered a long-term injury, and that perseverance to get back up and running and to the levels you were at before – without a doubt, you've either got it or you haven’t, and that determination, that will to win, that desire to better yourself is instilled in all footballers, bar none.

"Some fall by the wayside unfortunately because it's a big industry and it's very harsh and critical at times, and some grow. This has happened as a period of time when Marcus could devote a lot of his attention to it, particularly when the players were not back in training and were doing their little bits, but also a focus that he's driven by because of his experience and because of what he would have had to have gone through as a young lad going through the educational system.

"It's quite easy to say, 'Oh, look what he's done', and I've seen some comments and I can't understand people who talk about, 'Yeah, you've got the financial power to do it'. He's driving things on in his own way."

Jose Mourinho praised Marcus Rashford following his successful free school meals campaign, describing the Manchester United forward he knows well as a "man with principles".

Rashford's lobbying of the United Kingdom government led to a U-turn as the food voucher scheme for vulnerable school children was extended beyond term time, with the subject close to the player's heart due to his own childhood experiences.

The 22-year-old, who has spoken about his own reliance on free school meals and food banks when growing up, had already helped charity FareShare reach a goal of supplying three million meals to the vulnerable by the end of June.

Mourinho worked with Rashford during his time in charge of United and, as he prepares to come up against his former employers on Friday, has championed the England international for his off-field work.

"He did amazingly well, I congratulate him on that," the Spurs boss told the media ahead of the Premier League fixture.

"It's a bit strange for me that one football player can make it happen and, if it happens, it's because the government realises it is the right thing to do. The government shouldn't wait for one player to come out publicly and put some pressure on them for that to happen.

"The 18-year-old kid I met a few years ago to be now a man, and a man with principles.

"To fight for kids very similar too him when he was a young kid is something very nice from Marcus."

Rashford's focus on Friday will be dealing his old boss a serious blow as Spurs attempt to claw back the gap to United in the table.

Mourinho's side – boosted by the return of Harry Kane from injury – have nine games remaining in a Premier League season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, though they face a battle to finish in the top four again.

United sit in fifth place ahead of the pivotal clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. Spurs, meanwhile, are eighth, leaving them in danger of missing out on qualifying for next season's Champions League.

"The battle for the top four would be amazing if we all started with the same number of points but unfortunately that's not the case," Mourinho said.

"It's a strange battle to fight but it's a street challenge, motivation. I will try not to look to that difference, I honestly cannot tell you the difference in points, we have to look at this incredible challenge in the way we have to do it.

"Every game we have to try and win. At the end of the nine matches, we will see what we did and our opponents did.

"Normally in this fight we don't depend as much as we do on our exact opponents. But let's focus on one match at a time and tomorrow is Manchester United and the points are there to fight for."

Jose Mourinho is frustrated he cannot call on Dele Alli for Tottenham's big clash with Manchester United on Friday.

England midfielder Alli must serve a one-match ban for a racially insensitive social media post he made in February, forcing him to miss Spurs' first game since the Premier League returned.

A video on Snapchat showed Alli in an airport mocking an Asian man in reference to coronavirus, before the lockdown. Alli said he videoed the man because he was coughing, not because of his ethnicity and admitted he made an "extremely poorly judged joke".

According to Mourinho, others have avoided punishment despite committing more serious misconduct during the pandemic.

Mourinho said in a news conference, held by video link on Thursday: "I feel very, very sorry that Dele is not playing. He is a player that works so, so hard during all this period and he's really frustrated that he cannot play the first match.

"I don't want to say much more than I don't think he deserves a one-match ban compared with wrong behaviours at much bigger dimensions that happened during this period without any consequences.”

The video posted by Alli showed him wearing a protective facemask in an airport and was entitled "Corona whattt, please listen with volume". It cut to the gentleman, who appeared to be unaware he was being filmed, before panning to a bottle of antiseptic handwash.

Underneath, a caption read: "This virus gunna have to be quicker than that to catch me."

The 24-year-old deleted the video and posted an apology to the Chinese social media network Weibo.

Mourinho, who is preparing to face his former club, can recall England captain Harry Kane after a long injury lay-off, and that may allay the blow of losing Alli.

Asked how Tottenham would shape up without Alli, Mourinho said: “How are we going to play? I’m not going to tell you.”

Harry Kane will start for Tottenham against Manchester United in their first Premier League match following the coronavirus-enforced pause after recovering from a torn hamstring, Jose Mourinho has confirmed.

Kane, 26, suffered the injury in the 1-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year's Day, condemning him to a lengthy period on the sidelines.

Initially it was suggested he could potentially miss the rest of the season, but with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a three-months suspension to the Premier League season, Spurs' chief goal threat will be able to play a major role in their final nine matches of the campaign.

Moussa Sissoko (knee) and Son Heung-min (broken arm) also suffered serious injuries before the lockdown, but they too are ready to return.

When speaking about team news in a virtual news conference on Thursday, Mourinho said: "We have little things [injuries] but we are going to wait until tomorrow [Friday, before ruling them in or out].

"Of course [Japhet] Tanganga has a stress fracture for a few months now and of course he didn't recover during this period, and we have some little problems that we have to analyse before we make a decision.

"But the ones that had the surgeries, Kane, Son and Sissoko, these three they recovered and they are ready to play.

"Kane doesn't play football for more than six months, so again he is working extremely well. I can tell you no problem he is going to start the game.

"Does harry have 90, 80, 70, 60 minutes in him? Only the game will tell us that. Is Harry on his top form? For him, I don't know. It's been around six months without a football match, but he works extremely well. He is an amazing professional and he's going to start tomorrow."

Mourinho was less certain about Giovani Lo Celso's prospects, however, as the Argentina international sustained an injury just before the lockdown, and regulations prevented him getting the treatment he required.

"I consider Gio one of the victims of the rules and one of the victims of the protocols, because he was injured in the end of the period before coronavirus," Mourinho said.

"He was in very bad condition in the last three or four matches. He played for five or 10 minutes against Burnley, he wasn't ready for Leipzig.

"Because of the rules, his injury isn't one in need of surgery, it needed daily treatment and close contacts with physios and fitness coaches, but that was not possible for about two months, he was injured and he couldn't recover from it.

"So, when the training ground opened and he started treatment. It was not enough to have him 100 per cent fit - only in the past days was he training with the team.

"Available for tomorrow? Yes, I think so, but we will test if he is going to play 90 minutes, start the game or not. It was a difficult process for him."

The Friday clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could prove pivotal for both teams' Champions League aspirations.

Spurs, who are eighth, go into the match four points adrift of fifth-placed United, who will be looking to go level with fourth-place Chelsea, at least until Sunday, with a victory.

Marcus Rashford's achievement in persuading the UK government to extend its food voucher scheme is more important than any football match he will ever play, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

United and England striker Rashford wrote a letter to members of the House of Commons on Monday imploring them to continue free school meals for disadvantaged children when the term finishes.

Vouchers were given out over the Easter holidays because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the scheme usually only runs during term time and so was due to end next month.

But the FareShare campaign fronted by Rashford forced the government to rethink its approach, with the widespread support on social media ultimately leading to Downing Street making a U-turn.

Rashford will return to his day job on Friday as United resume their Premier League season at Tottenham, but Solskjaer is well aware that no match the 22-year-old plays will be as impactful as the changes he has helped bring.

"As a club, and me as his manager, of course it's been fantastic to follow Marcus throughout the lockdown period as well," Solskjaer told a video news conference on Thursday.

"It's not only that he got the prime minister to change his mind, it's also what he's done over the last few months.

"Marcus is a top human being, he's brought his own experiences as a kid into this conversation and change the lives of many kids.

"He's already been captain of the club at such a young age and he's proving all the time his human qualities which is a main attribute for a Manchester United player.

"What Marcus has done has been incredible, with his family, with his own personality of course. He's always been a great human being and coming up through the academy I think the club recognised that early, gave him chances.

"Of course, we saw the talent, but you need you need to be a really good human being too. He's changed the lives so many kids this summer, which is more important than any game he'll ever play, so hopefully he can keep both sides going as well as he's going now.

"Me at 22, I wouldn't have been in a position to affect people and change like this. I don't think he's thinking about this politically, in any other way than helping people and kids.

"He knows deep down he's helped children with food and to change their lives. I think that makes him feel good about himself and, using his position as a role model, one of the top players in the country, he can affect people in a good way.

"It's up to every individual of course, and footballers as a group have been criticised a lot, even over lockdown, but I think this lockdown has maybe changed people, maybe made them think about larger issues.

"Marcus has always been a good lad and the changes he's made are unbelievable. Footballers are easy targets at different times, but we can affect people in a good way too. If you can use your face to change something for the better, why not?"

Rashford has also been vocal in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gained significant traction across the world following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody last month in Minneapolis.

As the Premier League returned on Wednesday, players, coaches and officials copied the demonstration made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, when he protested against social inequality and police brutality by taking a knee.

Solskjaer is confident this time change will come.

"I feel now that, this time it is finally changing," he said. "It's been on the agenda for many years, this issue of racism and we've had a couple of incidents in the league, and we've talked about it and maybe forgotten, but this time it will hopefully affect more people, leaders and decision makers. I think we all support these actions [the pre-match gestures].

"It's been an event in history that's changed people's views and the movement, I think we know this [racism] shouldn't happen in 2020. Players, Premier League teams, we all make a stand to say enough is enough, and I don't think we'll be any different."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.