United striker Lukaku is believed to have suffered the foot injury in the Champions League comeback at Paris Saint-Germain and aggravated it in the loss at Arsenal on March 10. Lukaku has not played since then but Belgium coach Roberto Martinez insisted he report for international duty at the national team camp in Tubize, where Lukaku had an MRI scan that ruled him out of their European Championship qualifiers against Russia and Cyprus.
This is the other side of the “no one is playing internationals because of injuries” coin. United had a whopping 19 of their 25 first team players sit out the international break because of injuries. A number that Sir Alex Ferguson would be jealous of.
Jesse Lingard was left off the England team due to the hamstring injury he picked up against PSG and aggravated against Liverpool. Marcus Rashford withdrew from the England squad because of an ankle injury that he’s definitely had for quite some time. Anthony Martial pulled himself out of French camp and Lukaku was unfit for Belgium.
Most of those injuries were precautionary. Lingard returned to United just before the international break. Rashford just needs rest. Martial is ready to go once again. The two weeks of rest they all just got will be vital as United challenge for the top four.
Lukaku being out for an additional two weeks is actually a good thing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That’s not to say Lukaku has been bad, he hasn’t.
Lukaku took the longest to get the Solskjaer magic charm, partially because he wasn’t with the team when Ole came in, and partially because he didn’t get chances. Once he did, the goals started coming.
Lukaku was vital in keeping United afloat when Lingard and Martial first went down with injuries. He capped off a stretch scoring six goals in three games with a brace against PSG to send United to the Champions League quarterfinal. United wouldn’t be where they are right now without him.
But that doesn’t make him one of their three best forwards and the last thing Ole Solskjaer needs right now is a selection headache. When Ole took over United’s front three of Lingard, Rashford, and Martial took off. That threesome hasn’t been available since the February match at Craven Cottage (Rashford was on the bench that day).
If United are going to finish in the top four it’s going to be behind them (with contributions from Lukaku). Playing behind that front three is when Paul Pogba has been at his best.
Lukaku’s injury will give them a few games to settle back in and find their form again. Once Lukaku comes back hopefully they’ll be firing on all cylinders, allowing United to use Lukaku as a rotation player, or a super sub. That’s a role he’ll thrive in.