Manchester United fans were shocked on Wednesday evening to learn of Chris Smalling’s recent injury which prevented him from playing the League Cup game against rivals Manchester City. Although Jose Mourinho’s side ran out winners on the night as a result of Juan Mata’s second half goal, the signs are not positive for the North West club as they struggle in the middle of defence considering the fact first choice centre-backs Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly are both out with injury.
The duo have struck up a good understanding and partnership since the beginning of the season following the slow introduction of the Three Lions defender since the start of the season. Bailly on his part was injured in the 4-0 demotion at Stamford Bridge as he was substituted after injuring his knee with reports having it that he will miss close to eight weeks of action as he fights to recover. Smalling on his part got injured during training and is likely to miss the league game against Sean Dyche’s Burnley in Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
In Smalling’s place, Argentine and former Sporting Lisbon’s Marcus Rojo partnered Daley Blind in central defence in the League Cup win against Manchester City. Rojo in particular was impressive on the night as he hassled and harried the City attackers neutralising their potency to a large extent despite the fact he was making only his sixth appearance this season in all competitions on the night. The problem with the pairing of Rojo and Blind is due to the fact that both are left-footed defenders who started their careers as left-backs before their conversion to centre-backs at Manchester United. What this entails is that Jose Mourinho is short of right-footed centre backs and must make do with both left-footers for the game against high flying Burnley who best Ronald Koeman’s Everton last week in Turf Moor.
“We are used to playing with Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling but we have lost both to injury.”
” We have to play with two left-footed central defenders (Daley Blind) and Marcos Rojo had not played for a while, but he played phenomenally tonight ,” were the words of Mourinho after the game with City on Wednesday.
Also out as a result of injury is captain Wayne Rooney who missed the Chelsea game and City game, and Anthony Martial who has an inflammation on his foot according to French publication SFR.
United will look to gain the maximum three points against a newly promoted Burnley having gained only two points in the last three games against the likes of Stoke City, Liverpool and Chelsea as the look to close the six points gap with league leaders Manchester City.