Following a thrilling month of sensational football and unconfined excitement, it’s very much time to welcome back club matters.
Manchester United have very little time to prepare before they resume action, with most of their World Cup-involved players featuring in the latter rounds – and one even going the whole way with champions Argentina.
With a Carabao Cup fixture to come on 21 December before their return to the Premier League, we can expect a few big names to take their time in getting back into the swing of things. So, when could the Red Devils’ World Cup stars return?
The contingent of Erik ten Hag’s squad that travelled to Qatar actually fared well at the 2022 World Cup.
Just two of the 14 that flew out (13 returned, of course) exited at the group stage, with Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Uruguay’s Facundo Pellistri seeing their journeys cut prematurely. Their early returns to England will see them fit and readily available for the Red Devils’ first game back.
The majority of the United representatives in Qatar made it to the last eight before leaving the competition. England’s Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford returned home having lost to France; Tyrell Malacia was dumped out of the competition after the Netherlands’ dramatic defeat to Argentina; Fred, Casemiro and Antony all proved disappointingly early returners after Brazil’s penalty-shootout loss to Croatia; and Bruno Fernandes flew back to Manchester without Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal were eliminated by surprise package Morocco.
After their respective quarter-final exits, however, their returns to training might have come too late for a feature in United’s Carabao Cup fixture on Wednesday.
Two of the Red Devils’ World Cup contingent will most certainly miss out on that game, having played in the final just a few days prior. Raphael Varane will return to England too late for his side’s first game back, after suffering heartbreak with France – as will Lisandro Martinez, who enjoyed a different fortune in that final with La Albiceleste.
Ten Hag and his men will host Championship outfit Burnley in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday before resuming the Premier League season on 27 December (when we might be able to see the majority of the World Cup stars return), welcoming Nottingham Forest to Old Trafford.
United broke up for the World Cup with good form behind them; they’ll look to build on the nine wins they’ve earned in their previous 12 fixtures as they currently sit three points outside the Champions League places with a game in hand.