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Jose silent on United squad criticism


REFUSAL: Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

REFUSAL: Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

REFUSAL: Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has refused to "play the game" and expand on recent comments appearing to suggest some of his players lacked character.

Mourinho was quoted in an interview with Spanish broadcaster Univision saying that some of his young players were "without character".

It was reported that Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford were those he had mentioned.

But Mourinho yesterday insisted: "I don't play your game. I don't play the game of take out of context and do what you want. I have nothing to say."

Mourinho, speaking ahead of today's Premier League home clash with Crystal Palace, said Paul Pogba, who missed the 3-1 loss at Manchester City on November 11 through a "small muscular injury", was available.

Romelu Lukaku, Martial, Rashford and Marouane Fellaini are also all fit after question marks during the international break over whether they would be fit.

Mourinho said Lukaku, who has had a hamstring issue, was "ready, with a little bit of a risk, but ready".

The defeat to leaders City left eighth-placed United 12 points behind their neighbours, and Mourinho's men are seven points behind Spurs in fourth.

But Mourino believes United will be in the top four by the end of 2018.

He said: "I know it's a big gap but I also know, that until the end of December, we have eight Premier League matches to play.

"Twenty-four points for us to fight for, 24 points for the other ones that are in the top four to fight for too, but I believe we are going to be there."

Prior to the City loss, United had won three games in a row - 2-1 wins against Everton and at Bournemouth in the Premier League and at Juventus in the Champions League.

Mourinho, whose side host Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday, said: "Of course we need points, of course we need results, of course we need performances. It's up to us.

"We were playing well and getting good results. We lost the last match but I don't consider it at all a bad performance. We were in a good moment, we were playing well, so why not to stay the same, to improve and to get good results."

Mourinho said he did not know whether United had opened contract talks with defender Chris Smalling.

Meanwhile, Palace boss Roy Hodgson dismissed talk that playing at Old Trafford is now easier.

Palace have only two points from seven Premier League games but Hodgson said: "We are playing against a very good team, with top quality players.''