Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been presented with a dilemma as he ponders his Manchester United team selection for their return to action on Friday night.

The United manager gave his first press conference in over three months on Thursday, and as expected, team news was near the top of the agenda.

After such a long period without competitive action Solskjaer's selection needs to be spot on and the Norwegian will be wary of taking any unnecessary risks in North London.

"The Premier League is intense physically and they are going straight into another season after," the Norwegian stated as he resumed media duties. "It's a good option to protect the players and not pick up any unnecessary injuries."

It is those last two words which are particularly poignant ahead of a trip to face Tottenham in the first match back. Solskjaer, like many, will have watched the Premier League resume on Wednesday night and in both of those games he was reminded of the risk attached to playing his returning stars.

Although not injured, David McGoldrick suffered two awkward knocks after coming on for Sheffield United in the first match, while Pablo Mari suffered a muscle injury early on in Arsenal's collapse at Man City.

Freak injuries to Granit Xhaka and Eric Garcia in the second match were not down to a lack of match fitness, but were themselves reminders of the intense physical exertions players put themselves through.

In the first two matches Solskjaer's pessimism will have been fed, and it might influence a cautionary approach when it comes to Paul Pogba's return in particular.

The United manager reiterated both Pogba and Marcus Rashford have been out for a 'long period' when he previewed the match but he insisted both are available to play. The question is, how long will they play?

Pogba is arguably the most talented outfield player at the club but the case for starting him on the bench is eased not only by Bruno Fernandes' arrival, but the knowledge they landed on a working midfield system without him in it earlier this year.

It is also crucial to remember that, despite an encouraging few weeks in training, the French midfielder would be making his first appearance in 176 days and potentially a first start in 263 days now he has recovered from ankle surgery. After such a long absence it seems far too big a risk to be taking with such a packed fixture schedule ahead.

United paid the price when they needlessly played Pogba in their Carabao Cup game against Rochdale last September, a dull cameo which saw him struggle in the following game against Arsenal before missing the next three months.

“We’ve had time out so I don’t think we can expect that those lads who’ve missed lots of the football can last the full game," Solskjaer admitted earlier this month when he initially hinted at a reduced role for Pogba and Rashford.

Pogba and Rashford will both be important to United in the run-in, but it could be too much of a risk to start both of them on Friday.