Just days after declaring he had a full squad to choose from, Jose Mourinho has had his options reduced again by injuries to two or three defenders.
The Manchester United manager confirmed on Monday evening what he and many onlookers would have feared after Saturday's 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace - that Victor Lindelof is
“obviously injured” for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League match against Young Boys and will be
“out for quite a while.”
That news brings to an end a run of six consecutive starts for the Swede, who was recently named his country's Player of the Year and has been regarded as one of the Reds' best performers in recent weeks.
“[Victor will have a] scan tomorrow, but by the experience of the medical department and the feelings of the player, he has a muscular problem and a muscular problem takes time,” revealed Mourinho at his pre-match press conference.
“I would say if we have Victor available for the Christmas period when we need, if possible, every player to be available for that difficult period until the Newcastle match on 2 January, it will be good.”
Lindelof will be joined on the sidelines at Old Trafford by fellow centre-back Marcos Rojo. When the manager spoke to the media last week, the Argentina international was deemed to be ready to play in the forthcoming fixtures but he now has
“some little injury”, leaving Mourinho with three fit centre-backs to choose from.
“Jones, Smalling and Bailly are the three that we have at this time,” said the boss, who added that full-back Matteo Darmian also has
“a little [problem]”. The Italian played the full 90 minutes on Saturday as a replacement for Luke Shaw, who is eligible to face Young Boys after serving a one-match domestic suspension.
Mourinho added in his exclusive MUTV interview that
“everyone [else] is ready” for the penultimate match in Group H, a game he describes as
“not crucial” with a further chance to qualify - albeit away to Valencia - still to come on 12 December.
“It's not a crucial match because if we don't win tomorrow, we still won't depend on other results, we'll just depend on ourselves,” he explained in his media briefing,
“'[But although] it's not a crucial game, I want to play from minute one like it is the last chance we have to qualify. I want to play this game as a knockout game, like it's a game we have to win.I want to pick a team who I think can cope well with playing a decisive game.
All eyes on training Gallery
See which players have been photographed before the Young Boys match.