Manchester United head into Sunday’s Premier League clash against Middlesbrough with multiple selection dilemmas, with several key players out either through suspension or injuries.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera will be out through suspension – the Swede serving the second match of his three-match ban after being found guilty of violent conduct in the match against Bournemouth two weeks ago, while the Spaniard starts his two-match ban after being sent off during the Reds’ FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea.
Paul Pogba and Daley Blind both picked up injuries against Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday. The Frenchman went off in the second half with what looked to be a hamstring problem, with José Mourinho confirming that he would be out until the upcoming international break ends:
I don’t know how long [he will be out] for sure, but there will be no Middlesbrough and no national team.
Meanwhile, Blind suffered a possible concussion after colliding with a Rostov player in the second half and came off for Phil Jones. The United manager did not report on Blind’s status in his pre-match press conference, but all signs point to the Dutchman being ruled out.
Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Bastian Schweinsteiger are also possible doubts for the trip to the Riverside Stadium, and Mourinho has admitted that United’s tough schedule is starting to take its toll:
My teams’ injury records are very, very good. It’s very difficult for my players to get injuries and obviously Pogba’s injury was due to an accumulation of fatigue.
He felt something in the first half and, in the second half, he immediately felt like he couldn’t carry on. Even a physical monster like him couldn’t carry on. But, of course, he was one of the players who never had a rest.
He played every game. Even at Blackburn [in the FA Cup], he was on the bench and he played half-an-hour. I think the Monday night game with 10 men also paid a price. So Paul is paying the price.
However, Mourinho vowed that his side would put everything into Sunday’s early kick-off:
This is Manchester United, I cannot sacrifice anything. We try to go for every game we do, we try to reach our maximum potential.
[There are] a lot of problems. If you play at 12 o’clock, you need to eat before nine and, if you need to eat before nine, you need to wake up before that.
If you play at five o’clock in the afternoon, of course, you can have more sleep, better sleep with more meals before the game and more nutrition. It’s difficult to understand and difficult to accept but it has to be [the case].