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Lukaku at Old Trafford.

Team news: Lukaku is fit to face Derby County

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed Romelu Lukaku is fit and available to face Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup third round on Friday night.

The Belgium international and our top scorer for the season received a heavy blow to the head during the Premier League match against Southampton last Saturday. He was taken off in the first half of that game and subsequently missed the impressive victory against former club Everton on New Year's Day.

In an interview with MUTV on Thursday, Mourinho exclusively revealed the big man is ready to return. “Romelu is back, Romelu is back,” Jose told Gemma Thompson. “As I said it was not a concussion, it was a precaution, a protection for him. He wanted to play against Everton, but this time he is back.”

Later on Thursday, in the press conference, Mourinho admitted he will start Sergio Romero over David De Gea in the anticipated cup tie.

“I'm going to play Romero because Romero is a top, top goalkeeper and he deserves to play,” the boss told reporters. “David deserves a rest. And Romero's going to be the Argentina goalkeeper in the World Cup in a few months, so for all what Romero means to us, Romero plays and I am going to play what I consider to be a very strong team.”

The manager also provided updates on the fitness of recent absentees Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia.

“From the injured players, Fellaini is back. And Michael Carrick is back to training, not to competition, but is back to training with the team. Antonio Valencia will be back to the team next week so he is not playing tomorrow but will be back to the team next week. The situation is improving for us.”

Lukaku against Southampton
Romelu received a heavy blow to the head during the recent Premier League match against Southampton

WHO WILL START UP FRONT?

After Lukaku picked up a head injury against Southampton, Anthony Martial led the line at Everton and executed a superb finish past Jordan Pickford. Marcus Rashford replaced him on 77 minutes, so it will be fascinating to see which of the trio gets the nod to face Derby. The team will be announced on Friday night at 19:00 GMT. 

EARLY TEAM NEWS FROM DERBY

Rams manager Gary Rowett has admitted that Wales international Joe Ledley is a doubt due to injury, but he is hopeful that ex-Red Tom Lawrence can overcome a back problem to play. 

He has also hinted he will rotate due to the busy fixture list. “I think every team will have a similar approach around the FA Cup. With such a heavily packed schedule around Christmas, it would be silly not to freshen up in one or two areas. But that’s not to say I will make 10 or 11 changes!”