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Juan Mata back in training ahead of Barcelona clash

Juan Mata returned to training ahead of the final pre-season match of the United States of America leg of the tour. The Spanish attacking midfielder trained alone at Georgetown University in Washington DC, days ahead of the final clash of the International Champions Cup with United going head-to-head with Barcelona at the Washington Redskins FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The 29-year-old suffered an ankle injury during the second pre-season match with Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah and has only played 59 minutes during the pre-season tour. Mata then missed the 2-0 victory over Manchester City at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the 1-1 draw, 2-1 penalty shootout victory over Real Madrid at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The training session was shown live on the club’s television channel, MUTV and Mata was seen with a member of United’s medical staff enduring a solo training session in order to get himself ready for when United call on him, which could well be on Wednesday evening when they face Barcelona, just after midnight on Thursday in the United Kingdom. United’s player endured a light training session on the East Coast of the United States of America, returning to full training on Tuesday, of which Mata could be part of. Former United player and MUTV pundit Bojan Djordjic was happy to see Mata return to action and praised the Spaniard’s attitude speaking to the official Manchester United website, saying:

“I have been with the team for such a long time on tour, watching training live, and Juan Mata smiles all the time. I keep going on about that smile but he really helps you get through some things, especially when you have quality. He has been through a lot during his career and that smile is always on. It doesn’t matter who he speaks to, it can be a staff member or it can be the manager, he always has time for everybody. He is very, very likeable and is also a very, very good player.”

United have another injury worry with Ander Herrera suffering after a clash against Real Madrid on Sunday, being substituted early in the second half of the match, which could have ended his pre-season in the United States. Mourinho, who commented on the injury on Sunday night did not know what was wrong with the player, just that he must have been hurting in order to come off the field. Herrera was not seen in the light training session on Monday, which could see him on the sidelines until United face Valerenga on Norway (30th July), Sampdoria in Dublin (2nd August) or even the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in around a fortnight’s time, the 8th August. Mourinho, speaking to the official Manchester United website about Herrera’s injury, said:

“It must at least be very painful because for Ander to come off, it has to be very painful. I want to wait and see what it is. I always say to the players that you don’t risk anything in friendly matches. If you feel something is coming, even if it is a little injury, get off because the result is not important. It was very painful, it was in front of the bench, it was a bad contact. Maybe it is his ribs but I don’t know.”

The return of Mata will be a boost for United, especially if he makes it for the Barcelona match, but United and Mourinho will be sweating on Herrera as he is a crucial player to have at the club, especially in midfield with United expected to make it five victories in five during the USA leg of their pre-season tour. United could be left with Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay in midfield with United seemingly needing reinforcement in that area ahead of the new season. Tuesday’s press conference, which will be aired live on MUTV at 17:00 on Tuesday may see the manager confirm whether Herrera is injured or ready to face the team who have been tracking him this summer.

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