By Dave Marshall
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that the impressive centre back pairing of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are still out injured and will miss the visit of newly promoted side Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford today.
Jose Mourinho as quoted on both Jones and Bailly via the club’s official website:
“They are out,” referring to central defensive pair Jones and Bailly. “But we are okay because we have [Chris] Smalling, [Marcos] Rojo and [Victor] Lindelof.”
However, the Portuguese tactician has also revealed that Veteran striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic who returned to first team action against the Magpies in the Premier League last weekend as a late substitute for Anthony Martial will start from the bench against the Seagulls today as he does not want to rush the Talisman back into the starting line-up.
The Sweden international has featured in back-to-back games for the first time since April after he suffered a career threatening knee ligament injury having come on as a late substitute in our 1-0 loss in the Champions League against Swiss side FC Basel.
Jose Mourinho as quoted on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he said;
“I prefer him on the pitch than off the pitch,” the boss told us. “On the pitch, he’s another option for us and he’s an option of quality. His physicality and his intelligence, the way he moves, the way he plays.
“But he needs time. We managed to give him 15/20 minutes in both matches, he needs more of that, so hopefully, tomorrow, we play him again.”
The return of influential midfielder Paul Pogba has given the team a huge boost and has sparked life into our attack that has been struggling for goals in the Frenchman absence. The United most expensive player brought back the attacking prowess lacking in his absence and inspired his side to an impressive 4-1 win against the Magpies at Old Trafford last weekend.
Although, the Special one has revealed the influential midfielder game time will be managed as he is yet to complete 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, the 54-year-old also gave some update on Argentine defender Marcos Rojo who has also been out since April with a knee injury, but made his long awaited return in the Champions League against FC Basel on Wednesday having completed the full 90 minutes.
The Special One as quoted on key midfielder Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo, he said;
“Paul is still on this process where he cannot reach the fatigue limit,” explained the boss. “He cannot go more than 65 to 70 minutes because that’s when fatigue normally arrives and, with so many matches consecutively, we need to protect such an important player for us.
“Rojo was training with the team longer than Paul and Zlatan, but in a period when we had every central defender ready to play so we protected him. We gave him a better condition and, when we put him in the Champions League match, he was really ready.
“So 90 minutes, no problem, no reaction from the knee, confidence in his game, a good, solid performance. It’s very good to have him back.”
Mourinho made seven changes in the defeat against FC Basel in the Champions League but key players such as David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ashley Young and Juan Mata are all expected to be back in the starting lineup today after impressive displays against Newcastle last weekend.