Jose Mourinho could be without six first-team players when Manchester United meet Juventus on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League.
Top spot in Group H of the UEFA Champions League will be on the mind for Manchester United, when they play hosts to Juventus at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. But, while there has been an upswing in the performance levels, Jose Mourinho is grappling with a major injury crisis, with a number of key players sidelined.
The problems start right at the back, with Diogo Dalot and Phil Jones on the sidelines. But, there is some good news in store for the Manchester United boss, with Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo available. And, Mourinho addressed Valencia’s recent absence during his pre-match press conference, explaining that the club captain is back to full fitness.
"I think Martial is like the team," says the boss. "The team is playing fine, Martial is playing fine. It's easier for individuals to play well when the team is playing well. He has been involved when the team played well and he played well too." #MUFC pic.twitter.com/RS7Al3hIHL
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 22, 2018
“The reason was that he was 10 days without training with a problem, not an injury, but a problem that he had a very complicated surgery on his mouth. And 10 days without training and he needed a little bit of time to recover some level after that.”
Despite Valencia’s return to fitness, however, Mourinho could reward Ashley Young for a solid outing this past weekend before easing the Manchester United captain back in on the weekend. On the opposite flank, Luke Shaw is nailed on as the left-back.
Chris Smalling and David de Gea are certain starters as well, and the final position at the back will be a toss-up between Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly. Lindelof was solid for the most part against Chelsea last weekend, which should help him keep his place in the back four.
In midfield, Marouane Fellaini is a major absentee, with Scott McTominay also unavailable. That leaves Mourinho with Nemanja Matic, Fred, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba to fill up two positions, provided he continues with the 4-2-3-1 formation that brought Manchester United a lot of success against Chelsea.
Matic and Pogba should thus, be the preferred midfield pivot, with the former Juventus superstar having more defensive responsibility. In attack, Mourinho is down to his bare bones, with Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard on the treatment table. The Manchester United manager also addressed Sanchez’s absence.
“The players you saw are the players that are available. [We have] Nothing to hide and Alexis is out.”
With four players set to line up in attack, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku are automatic selections. But, Tahith Chong is in line to make his Manchester United debut, having travelled with the squad. The youngster could also be an option from the bench.