January 09, 2015

Paul Pogba will make a first Manchester United appearance since his world-record transfer when they host Southampton at Old Trafford on Friday night.

The game is the first Friday night match of a new television era in the Premier League, and Pogba's 'debut' makes the fixture a fitting introduction for the league's new feature.

''Yes, he's ready to play,'' manager Jose Mourinho told a news conference on Thursday.

France international Pogba completed his £89 million return to Manchester earlier this month, rejoining the club he left in 2012 for a nominal fee. But the four-time Serie A winner and European Championship finalist was suspended for the opening game of the Premier League campaign due to a ban carried over from the Coppa Italia. Pogba was watching on from the stands as Mourinho's United beat Bournemouth 3-1 on Sunday. New teammate David de Gea is thrilled at the prospect of playing alongside Pogba.

"I think he is something special," De Gea told Manchester United's official television station. "He feels like this is his home and we are all really, really happy to have him again in Manchester. He's now with all his friends again in Manchester, with everyone here, and he looks like he never left the club. He's really good for the team.

De Gea added.

"I think it's good to have a mix of young players and experienced players. That's what we have in the team now and I think it's really good for the young players. They have done really well, they train very hard and it's really good to see."

Mourinho wasn't the only new manager to take charge of their first game for a new club at the weekend. Southampton's Claude Puel was another of the eight bosses to make their bows, with the Saints picking up a point against Watford on Saturday. Puel arrived on the English south coast with a reputation for developing young talent during his time with Nice, Lyon and Lille in Ligue 1, but was disappointed with the first half of competitive football that his new squad served up.

"The first half against Watford was not good," Puel said. "But I liked the second half, with a good reaction of the players. This is very important, and we could see in the second half all the possibilities of my team, of my players … and I would like to see this against United.

"We know we can make good football. It's important to keep the ball and good acquaintance between the players, to defend together - all the details of our play and our game, and this is most important for me. It's important to keep good concentration with this."

Southampton remain without defenders Ryan Bertrand and Florin Gardos, but could introduce Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from the start after the former Bayern Munich youngster's impressive impact off the bench against Watford.

Manchester United's only injury worry is over Jesse Lingard, who has an ankle problem. However, there are concerns that summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be limited to a substitute role due to a lack of match fitness.

Mourinho will be looking to put a stop to a poor recent run for United against Southampton. His new club have not won any of their last three home matches against the Saints and failed to score in 1-0 defeats in the last two meetings. Southampton, meanwhile, have never won three straight league games at Old Trafford in their history.

Nathan Redmond is looking to score in consecutive matches at the start of a season for the second straight campaign, after also achieving the feat with Norwich City in 2015-16.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic also scored on his club debut at the weekend and will be hoping to continue an impressive record of 16 goals in his last nine domestic league games (for United and previous club Paris Saint-Germain).

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