Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed the extent of his injury list ahead of the trip to Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
The boss made eight changes to his side for the 2-1 defeat to Valencia in the final Champions League Group H encounter but most of the alterations in personnel were forced. Indeed, only two players did not travel due to being handed a rest - keeper David De Gea and midfield man Nemanja Matic.
Matters were made worse by the fact Marcos Rojo was withdrawn at half-time at the Mestalla due to an unspecified problem, with Ashley Young taking his place rather than saving his legs for the weekend. However, the manager did also hint that substitutes Young, Jesse Lingard and goalscorer Marcus Rashford would all come into the starting line-up on Merseyside.
During his post-match press conference, Jose supplied full details on those he left behind for the trip to Spain.
“[Chris] Smalling is injured,” he said.
“[Victor] Lindelof is injured. [Matteo] Darmian is injured. [Anthony] Martial is injured. [Diogo] Dalot is injured. The only two players I could bring and I didn’t were De Gea and Matic. You are the first ones to make statements saying how many minutes Matic is playing, saying week-after-week he needs a rest. If he doesn’t have a rest when we’re already qualified, he will play until he explodes! Of course, it’s a normal option to leave him out.
”With David, it’s a question to give a match or not to [Sergio] Romero. Marcelino did the same with [Jaume] Domenech. Romero is such a good goalkeeper I even played him in the Europa League final a couple of years ago. Two chances to say they could play but, apart from that, nobody.
“Last week, we had three matches with the majority of players playing all the time. I had no other options including a player like Rojo, who I expected to play today and give a rest to Young for example. At half-time, Rojo is injured and is out. The players I play in this match, if it was a match to decide the group, would be a very similar team. That’s the reality.
”So when sometimes you make analysis about Manchester United and speak about ambitions or levels, sometimes you should know the situation a little bit better because you make certain comments.
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It has already been suggested that Alexis Sanchez will miss the remainder of the year, while Scott McTominay missed the tie at Valencia with 17-year-old Mason Greenwood being promoted to the bench after the manager initially indicated he would be on standby.
Liverpool, like United, qualified as group runners-up in the Champions League with their 1-0 victory over Napoli. Joel Matip has joined fellow defender Joe Gomez on the sidelines after breaking his collarbone against the Serie A side.
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