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Ralf Rangnick confirms Manchester United have a clean bill of health

Ralf Rangnick has given his Manchester United squad a clean bill of health after the club’s Covid-19 outbreak and called on the Premier League to aid player welfare by again allowing five substitutes per game.

United are set to return to action at Newcastle on Monday following a 16-day break which saw their Premier League games against Brentford and Brighton postponed.

Only the injured Paul Pogba is unavailable at St James’ Park, with interim manager Rangnick admitting he has major selection decisions to make after 25 outfield players trained on Wednesday.

Rangnick said: “The last training session we had eight outfield players and three goalkeepers and then we closed down the training ground for four days in order to break the chain.

“Today was the third day of training this week and we had 25 outfield players.

“The development of the last week was extremely positive. As far as I could see in training they are all in good shape.

“They did their homework. They all have their schedule to train at home.

“They stick to that schedule and programme and from what I saw in training most of them – if not all of them – might be available.”

Players and staff have made a staggered return to the club’s Carrington training base this week as United seek to regain momentum from Rangnick’s first two league games.

United recorded 1-0 wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich, but the 63-year-old German says the English game would benefit from again permitting managers to make five substitutions during games.

The temporary rule was first introduced in May 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing teams two extra substitutes, instead of the standard three, to support player welfare amid a congested fixture schedule.

Manchester United v Atalanta – UEFA Champions League – Group F – Old Trafford
Injured midfielder Paul Pogba is the only Manchester United player currently unavailable for selection (Martin Rickett/PA)

Despite widespread concerns over player-fatigue within the game, the Premier League was the only top league in Europe to revert to a maximum of three substitutes in a condensed 2020-21 campaign.

Rangnick said: “As far as I remember it was decided that every team could substitute five players when Covid started one-and-a-half years ago.

“I think it was the right decision to have more options to change players to save energy for players, especially if they have just recovered from Covid.

“The same is true right now. We have a similar situation to one-and-a-half years ago, so I see no reason why it shouldn’t be the same now.

“As far as I know in Europe, England is the only country that only allows three subs. In the other four big leagues in Europe you can substitute five players.

“If you have eight outfield players on the team sheet you should always be able to replace five.

“If you can only replace three of them you will always have five players on the bench who can not play.

“I think it would be a great help to have five subs, it would increase the emotional situation in the squad.

“It’s about game time. I haven’t spoken with the players about that, but I don’t need to as I know most would be in favour.”

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