Jose Mourinho will be without four first-team players when Manchester United visit St. James’ Park to take on Newcastle United on Sunday.
Manchester United will be aiming to build on their win over Huddersfield Town last weekend, when they travel to the northeast to take on Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday. And Jose Mourinho was buoyed by the problems in his squad easing up, with no fresh injuries ahead of this weekend.
At the back, Daley Blind (muscle injury) and Eric Bailly (ankle) are the only absentees, although the latter is expected to return by the end of the month. Mourinho also provided an update on the duo in his pre-match press conference, briefly confirming their unavailability.
“The squad is good, everything is fine. Eric Bailly and Daley Blind are the two players that are out.”
The Manchester United manager was more eloquent about Luke Shaw, and the progress that the English defender has made in recent weeks, possibly hinting towards the fact that he has gone a long way in cementing his place in the first-team setup.
“For a few months now, he’s free of these minor injuries that sometimes stop evolution. I’m really happy. I think the natural consequence is he will have his contract and he’ll be a Manchester United player for years.”
Shaw should, thus, start on the left side of the Manchester United defence, with Phil Jones returning after illness to line up alongside Chris Smalling in the central defensive partnership. Club vice-captain Antonio Valencia should once again be the right-back.
Up ahead in midfield, Marouane Fellaini is the only absentee after he underwent surgery on his troublesome left knee. But, Mourinho has enough cover in his squad to make up for the Belgian’s absence. And, Paul Pogba is likely to return to the side after being surprisingly named among the substitutes last weekend.
Upfront, Anthony Martial could earn a recall in place of Jesse Lingard, who hasn’t been performing at his best in recent weeks. Juan Mata could move into a central position, getting even more freedom than he did last weekend to wreak havoc on a vulnerable Newcastle defence.
Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku will be the men shouldering most of the goalscoring responsibility on Sunday, with Marcus Rashford among those who will need to make an impact off the bench, if needed.
Finally, there’s some positive news regarding Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned to training this week after recovering from a hamstring injury. But, Sunday’s match has come too soon for him, although he should be available for selection soon.
“Zlatan started training again this week with the team but he is not yet [ready to return]. Zlatan started training with the team two days ago, so two days with the group and improving. We are fine.”