HARRY MAGUIRE could be handed a Manchester United lifeline because Argentina won the World Cup.
Lionel Scaloni and his side are expected to head back to Buenos Aires for a ticker-tape parade through the capital on Tuesday after beating France to lift the trophy for the third time.
But that almost certainly rules United defender Lisandro Martinez and four of his squad-mates out of the Premier League resumption from Boxing Day.
And in turn, an absence of the South American would open the door for Maguire, now back in the Old Trafford fold after his exertions in the desert, to be named in the side for the December 27 game against Nottingham Forest.
Alongside United chief Erik ten Hag, Spurs boss Antonio Conte, Aston Villa’s Unai Emery, Pep Guardiola at City and Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi are likely to be without key men thanks to Argentina’s win.
Conte and Spurs fans may be left frustrated if Cristian Romero – who missed the last five games before the World Cup but recovered from his injury to feature in all seven games in Qatar – was unavailable for their Boxing Day lunchtime trip to Brentford.
Brighton could be without Alexis Mac Allister for their south-coast derby at Southampton that afternoon, with Emery potentially having to turn to blunder keeper Robin Olsen for the evening clash with Liverpool with final hero Emi Martinez unavailable.
Guardiola would have an extra 48 hours to get Julian Alvarez back and ready, with City not playing their first festive game until they travel to Leeds on December 28.
The likelihood of being without key men was something top Prem bosses had been aware of before the tournament.
Chelsea manager Graham Potter said last month: “I don’t know what the motivation of another human will be after a World Cup.
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“Most people who have won it celebrate on open top buses – and then need a three-week holiday to get over those celebrations.
“I could be selfish and say we need them back.
“But if they don’t go and celebrate and they have to come back here it will be difficult. They have to recover emotionally.
“And if you’ve lost the World Cup final it’s going to take more than three or four days to get over it.”