Manchester United injuries: Jose Mourinho faces tough runby Rohan Toure 21/04/2017 09:16:00 0 comments 1 Views
By Jack Gaughan for MailOnline
Published: 10:51 BST, 21 April 2017 | Updated: 14:16 BST, 21 April 2017
Jose Mourinho heads into the final month of his first season at Manchester United - comprising of nine games in 31 days - with an injury crisis on his hands.
With Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and a Europa League semi-final on the horizon, Mourinho’s squad is likely to be stretched to the limit. Six of their matches are away from Old Trafford.
Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both departed early on Thursday night having sustained knee injuries.
Jose Mourinho is facing a difficult fixture list with a raft of injuries in his squad
Zlatan Ibrahimovic landed awkwardly against Anderlecht and was forced to come off
The extent of the damage to the talismanic Swede's knee is as yet unknown
UNITED'S INJURY LIST
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee)
Marcos Rojo (knee)
Juan Mata (groin)
Chris Smalling (knee)
Phil Jones (toe)
Luke Shaw claimed Ibrahimovic was walking around inside the dressing room after beating Anderlecht but the extent of muscle damage remains to be seen. There were initial fears he could miss the remainder of the campaign.
As it stands, United have just 16 fit outfield professionals, with youngsters Axel Tuanzebe and Matty Willock making it 18.
Mourinho claimed he wasn’t optimistic on either Rojo or Ibrahimovic and called on both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to ‘be brave’.
Marcos Rojo was another casualty on the night and also sustained an injury to his knee
The defensive duo have knee and toe injuries respectively and Mourinho said: ‘If it was me, it (returning from injury) would be tomorrow.
‘It is time for Jones and Smalling to be brave, to risk, because for the team we have to do everything. That is the way we think.’
Juan Mata is also currently absent with a groin problem, which Mourinho had expected to keep the Spaniard out for the run in.
Chris Smalling and Jones both sustained knocks when they were away with the Three Lions
Phil Jones was injured in a training session with England during the international break
MANCHESTER UNITED FIXTURES:
Apr 23 - Burnley (a)
Apr 27 - Man City (a)
Apr 30 - Swansea (h)
May 4 - Celta Vigo (a)
May 7 - Arsenal (a)
May 11 - Celta Vigo (h)
May 14 - Tottenham (a)
May 17 - Southampton (a)
May 21 - Crystal Palace (h)
But it is at the back where Mourinho has the more significant problems, with Eric Bailly now their only fit recognised centre half.
Daley Blind filled that role under Louis van Gaal but the Portuguese has been resistant to the idea, with Tuanzebe a more likely candidate to deputise.
The 19-year-old would have replaced Bailly in the back four for Thursday’s second leg had United killed Anderlecht off in Belgium last week.
Tuanzebe has been training with the first team all season and is frequently namechecked by Mourinho. Matteo Darmian has also played centrally.
Bailly - who was told by Mourinho last summer he would be utilised as a back up this year - has grown into their premier centre back.
He will now need a partner, starting at Burnley on Sunday and for the trip to the Etihad next Thursday.
Juan Mata is another of Mourinho's influential players to be absent from the team