Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suffered his first setback as Manchester United’s caretaker manager with star striker Romelu Lukaku set to miss his first two games in charge.
It’s understood that Lukaku has spent this week on compassionate leave and is unlikely to return to the club until Boxing Day. He will not be available to Solskjaer until United face Bournemouth on December 30.
The news is a blow for the 45-year-old Norwegian, who started a six-month stint in charge of United on Thursday.
Solskjaer is expected to restore Paul Pogba to the line-up at Cardiff on Saturday after telling the squad they will have a ‘clean slate’ under him.
Star midfielder Pogba is one of a number of players who fell out with the sacked Jose Mourinho.
The French World Cup winner was dropped to the bench for United’s last three Premier League games.
But Solksjaer insisted on Thursday: ‘With the amount of games coming up, they will all have a chance to show they are Manchester United players.
‘Everyone in the squad knows they have a chance now, because whatever has happened, it has happened. From now, everyone starts on a clean slate and we want players to perform.’
Solskjaer has returned to the club where he was revered as a goalscorer promising to put a smile back on people’s faces after a miserable start to the season under Mourinho.
‘It’s been a whirlwind few days but it feels like coming home,’ he added.
‘It’s six months and I’m going to enjoy the ride. I had the best teacher (Sir Alex Ferguson). The boss is and will always be the best, so my management revolves around what I learned from him.
‘I know the club is in the process of finding a new manager and I’m going to be myself in the meantime.