Jose Mourinho has just three players unavailable as Manchester United get set to host Stoke City at Old Trafford on Monday.
Manchester United will look to pull three points clear in second place on the table, and cut the gap to Manchester City to 12 points when they welcome manager-less Stoke City to Old Trafford on Monday. Heading into the tie, Jose Mourinho has been buoyed, with his squad’s injury problems easing up.
The Manchester United boss has just Zlatan Ibrahimovic (hamstring), Eric Bailly (ankle) and captain Michael Carrick (heart) unavailable due to their respective problems, with Ashley Young suspended. But, there have been causes for optimism surrounding the recoveries of Carrick and Bailly.
The former trained with his teammates during Manchester United’s warm weather camp in Dubai and the latter has resumed light running in water. Ibrahimovic though, will be unavailable for the rest of the month, and Mourinho chose to comment on the frustrating injury that has put the Swede out of action during his pre-match press conference.
“Zlatan is injured, or is not totally happy with his condition. When he’s feeling really good, he can come back to work. The date for him to be back to training with the team was around the end of January or beginning of February, so let’s hope his feelings are better and we have him as soon as possible.”
However, Antonio Valencia is set to return to action after recovering from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for nearly a month. And the Ecuadorian should return to the side with the captain’s armband on the right side of the Manchester United defence, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling likely to be the central defensive partnership.
With Young serving the last of his three-match ban, Luke Shaw should get another opportunity to impress Mourinho. Up ahead in midfield, there might be a change in system from the previous league game, with the Manchester boss likely to revert to a pivot featuring Paul Pogba and well rested Nemanja Matic.
Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku are automatic selections when rested and available, and the only bone of contention will be the choice between Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial for the left side of attack.
The Frenchman might get the nod on Monday, having showed signs of positive form ahead of the warm weather training camp, with Rashford the explosive option off the bench. Marouane Fellaini should be another option on the bench for Mourinho & co.