Paul Pogba has stepped up his recovery from a knee injury and could make his second Juventus debut later this month, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed.
The France international has yet to make his first appearance for Juventus since returning on a free transfer from Manchester United ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.
Pogba sustained a knee issue in pre-season and suffered another setback in October that subsequently ruled him out of the World Cup in Qatar.
Speaking on December 18, Allegri said he was still unsure exactly when Pogba would return to action, with the 29-year-old yet to start running in training at that stage.
However, Allegri provided a more positive update at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Juve’s Serie A clash with Cremonese.
“He’s running. The most important thing is that at the moment is that the knee isn’t bothering him and it hasn’t swollen,” Allegri told reporters.
“If he proceeds like this, maybe within 15-20 days he will be able to be with the team, but it all depends on his evolution.
“When the pace picks up we’ll see how much and if he can train with the team. If everything goes smoothly, we’ll see step by step.”
Juve have six matches to play before the end of January, starting with Wednesday’s trip to Cremonese, who are still seeking a first league win of the season.
Leonardo Bonucci and Dusan Vlahovic are among Juve’s other absentees, while Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes are doubtful and Federico Chiesa is not fully fit.
Chiesa is on the comeback from a long-term lay-off, while Di Maria and Paredes only returned to Turin on Monday following Argentina’s prolonged World Cup celebrations.
Some have questioned whether the pair should have been asked to report back for duty sooner, but Allegri never considered that despite Juve’s injury issues.
“No, absolutely not,” he said. “We’ve never had any sort of emergency [with injuries]. The guys who stayed here during the World Cup have worked very well.
“We have to look between now and June 5. Getting them back a day earlier wouldn’t have changed anything.
“Over there they followed a one-week programme of work and it was right that they enjoyed the week of winning the World Cup, which doesn’t happen every year.”
With this focus into 2023 pic.twitter.com/5rBj2mdRUc
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 3, 2023
Allegri also confirmed he will make a late call on whether to select Wojciech Szczesny, but Brazil trio Danilo, Alex Sandro and Bremer are all available.
Third-place Juve enter the match with Cremonese on a six-game winning run in Serie A without conceding – their best-such run since March 2018 in Allegri’s first spell in charge.
Juve, who have won 10 of their past 12 league games played after a break of more than 50 days, are 10 points adrift of leaders Napoli and still fighting on multiple fronts.
“When there are 50 days without playing, only the results will tell if we worked well, if we rested well or not,” Allegri said.
“I think it will be a very good second part of the season. Napoli are the clear favourites for the championship, but there are many points to play for.
“We have the goal of getting into the top four and then going there to play in the finals of the Coppa Italia and the Europa League.”
The Bianconeri have won 1-0 in each of their past three matches on the road in Serie A, against Torino, Lecce and Verona.