Wednesday 18 October 2017

Mourinho confident United have squad depth to cope without Pogba

Manchester United's Paul Pogba limps off with a hamstring injury against Basle
Manchester United's Paul Pogba limps off with a hamstring injury against Basle

Jose Mourinho is uncertain about the severity of Paul Pogba's hamstring injury but has no doubt that Manchester United have the midfield strength to cope without him.

Tuesday's long-awaited Champions League return came at a cost, with the 24-year-old only lasting 19 minutes of the 3-0 victory against Basle.

Pogba had been captaining United for the first time when he pulled up as he challenged for the ball.

The France international left Old Trafford on crutches and Mourinho is unsure about his absence beyond Sunday's Premier League clash with Everton.

"I don't know, I just know that it's a muscular injury," the United boss said.

"He's obviously out for the weekend match. The weekend match is the only match that I'm thinking about. I don't think further than that.

"So, for me, it's just simple and objective: he's not playing this weekend."

Immediately after the Basle match, Mourinho spoke of his expectation that Pogba - one of the stars of the first few weeks of the season - faces a "few weeks" out.

However long it ultimately is, the United boss has no doubt his players will step up to the plate.

Michael Carrick, appointed captain in the summer, has yet to play a competitive minute this term, while Ander Herrera - left out of the squad on Tuesday - and Marouane Fellaini offer alternatives.

"We have players and we have players waiting for an opportunity," Mourinho said.

"Because we have started the season really well and with one match per week, (with) no need of resting, (to make) changes, we were basically going with the same players.

"But there are good players more than ready to play, so, honestly, we miss Pogba, we need Pogba, but we have good players.

"Herrera, Fellaini, Carrick, they are waiting - they are waiting for a real chance to start matches and to play matches from the beginning, and they are ready.

"So this is also our way of thinking. We lost important players last season during the season and during crucial moments of the season and we were not crying or making excuses about that. That's just football.

"Squads are (there) to try to cope with these kind of situations and we know that for a few matches - I don't know how many, I really cannot tell you how many I expect - but we are going to play without Pogba a few matches."

Mourinho's midfield selection may be in question against Everton, but there is no debate over his centre-back pairing.

Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof came in for Champions League duty in place of the suspended Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, but the United boss confirmed after the Group A opener that he would revert to the latter duo on Sunday.

Antonio Valencia is set to return at right-back having been given a break on Tuesday, when Ashley Young made an impressive return after his 131-day injury absence.

Luke Shaw is back from foot ligament damage and bolsters full-back options, but Marcos Rojo still faces time on the sidelines alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite being pictured in first-team training.

"Luke Shaw is not injured anymore so it is a question of form, is a question of option, but he's not injured," Mourinho said. "He recovered from his injury.

"Marcos Rojo is still in the timings (of recovery) after such an important injury.

"Everything went really well but he is not even training with the group in a normal session.

"He is just doing parts of it, so I still think Marcos has in front of him probably a couple of months."

Press Association

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