Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that he may prevent Bruno Fernandes from participating in World Cup qualifiers for Portugal later this month.
If Fernandes goes on international duty after the Red Devils’ FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City on March 21, he will have to quarantine for 10 days upon returning, as per the U.K. government’s coronavirus restrictions. That would mean the Portuguese midfielder missing Manchester United’s two crucial fixtures, which is something Solskjaer wants to avoid.
Manchester United were held at a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace in their latest Premier League outing Wednesday. The result meant Solskjaer’s side remain 14 points behind leaders Manchester City after 27 games in the 2020-21 season.
“We’ve not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn’t make sense if you lose your player for 10 days of isolation, of course it doesn’t. We’re the ones paying the players and from what I understand FIFA have given the rules that they don’t have to be released. So I would think that’s going to be a hard call to make to let them go and play in red list countries, yeah,” Solskjaer said in a post-match interview Wednesday.
The two games that Fernandes would miss because of quarantine are a home league game against Brighton on April 3 and a trip to North London to take on Tottenham on April 10.
“I want Bruno of course, ready against Brighton and hopefully that we are through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break, of course, I do,” added Solskjaer in the same interview.
Portugal’s World Cup qualifiers’ fixtures are against Azerbaijan on March 24 and Serbia on March 27.
In the 2020 January transfer window, Fernandes moved from Sporting Lisbon to Old Trafford and since then, the 26-year-old has been a key member of Solskjaer’s squad. Since his Red Devils’ debut in February 2020, he has played 62 games for the club and has chipped in with an aggregate of 34 goals and 21 assists.
In the ongoing season, Fernandes is the current top scorer for Manchester United with 22 goals and 13 assists across all competitions, ahead of Marcus Rashford (18 goals and 11 assists).