Louis van Gaal poised to rest his 'overworked' stars
Louis van Gaal is considering resting Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling for the League Cup tie against Middlesbrough tonight, with the Manchester United manager admitting that his overworked players were in the "red zone" following the club's punishing start to the season.
United face Boro, who sit fourth in the Championship, aiming to secure a place on the quarter-finals after defeating Ipswich Town in the previous round.
However, with Van Gaal's team facing their 17th game in all competitions in the space of two months at Old Trafford tonight, Van Gaal - without the injured Antonio Valencia - is ready to take heed of the club's fitness data before naming his team this morning.
"Valencia is injured, that we could all see (when he came off against Manchester City)," Van Gaal told MUTV.
"But I have a lot of players in the red zone because we have had lot of matches and we have a lot to play.
"I have to see if I can use them or not and I have to decide on Wednesday. We need all the days to recover at this moment, it is difficult to say who will play."
Smalling has been the busiest United player so far this season as the only ever-present, with Rooney missing just two games and Martial, the £36 million August signing from Monaco, appearing in 10 consecutive games since his arrival.
With leading clubs now relying heavily on fitness and performance data, including blood tests and GPS monitors worn in training, coaches can now identify when players are approaching levels of fatigue which can increase the risk of injury.
To bolster his options against Boro, Van Gaal withdrew James Wilson and Andreas Pereira from an under-21 fixture on Monday in order to have the pair in his squad tonight.
Van Gaal is expected to restore Memphis Depay to the team after three games on the bench.
He added: "Middlesbrough are a good playing side. They want to play football, but that is also a benefit for us . . .we can play football against them."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)