Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund is nursing a previously undiscovered back injury that will require careful management at the start of the season, according to reports.
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The 20-year-old completed a £72million switch from Atalanta to Old Trafford on Saturday and was presented to supporters ahead of their 3-1 friendly victory over Ligue 1 side Lens.
Unfortunately, United also confirmed that Hojlund was carrying an injury and would miss the first few weeks of the season – though they did not disclose the nature of the problem.
Now the Daily Mail are reporting that Hojlund’s medical picked up a stress response hotspot in his back which could become problematic if not treated with caution.
While United are adamant the injury is nothing to be overly worried about – and followed through on the £72m deal despite the issue – there are fears it could affect his involvement in the early stages of the season even once he is passed fit to play.
Hojlund is currently out running on the Carrington pitches but his workload has been reduced significantly, while he is not expected to make his debut until after the international break.
Although the back hotspot should resolve itself with rest, it can turn into a stress fracture if not managed properly – though Hojlund has not reached that stage yet and United are confident they can nurse him back to full fitness.
After the Denmark international underwent an additional MRI scan as part of his medical, United’s medical team decided there was no fundamental issue with his back and should be fine after a few weeks of recovery.
Hojlund will be given time to improve his fitness on an individualised training programme over the coming weeks before slowly being integrated into team training.
However, the Mail’s report also claims that, at least in the early weeks of his return to action, Hojlund’s participation in matches could be forced to be reduced to allay any risk of the injury reoccurring.
The youngster may therefore be unable to play two matches a week ‘for some time’ for fear of the issue developing into a stress fracture – which would result in a long lay-off and which severely disrupted Marcus Rashford in the 2019-20 season.
Stress response hotspots are often suffered by athletes who have had a high workload from a young age, which is the case with Hojlund.
The injury is far from ideal for manager Erik ten Hag, with Anthony Martial also nursing a hamstring injury, and the United boss has been forced to use Jadon Sancho as a false nine in pre-season as well as Rashford though the middle.
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