Manchester United have endured an awful run with injuries of late.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Juan Mata – three of the Red Devils’ most consistent performers this season – have all been missing with leg injuries.
Record signing Paul Pogba missed the derby with Manchester City after straining his groin in the win at Turf Moor, while central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have been out after picking up knocks on international duty with England.
Mix all that with a run of eight fixtures in a calendar month and even the most expensive squad in the Premier League is starting to wear thin.
Manager Jose Mourinho was able to offer up some good news on Friday though, explaining that Mata should be the first of those longer-term doubts to return.
‘I think the first one to come back is Mata, which will give us another option in attack, but in reality what we need now is one of the two centre-backs to be back,’ Mourinho said.
‘We arrive in an extreme situation where, I think it must be unique in football, where we have two cruciate ligaments in the same match [Ibrahimovic and Rojo against Anderlecht].
‘In my career I had one in 17 years. One cruciate in 17 years. And now, against Anderlecht, I have two. In one match. We are very unlucky is the only thing we can say.’
United host Swansea on Saturday before the first leg of their Europa League clash against Celta next Thursday.
Mourinho, who has been critical of his two defenders for not playing through the pain barrier, will be hoping to get them back into the team as soon as possible.
‘Smalling and Jones were [injured] with the English national team, training,’ the Portuguese manager added.
‘So maybe it’s a blessing, an opportunity to make the team stronger, maybe it’s an opportunity to make them mentally stronger.
‘Maybe it’s a blessing, so let’s see if they can come back.’http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/28/jose-mourinho-believes-juan-mata-will-be-the-first-of-manchester-uniteds-long-term-injury-lay-offs-to-return-6604450/