Saturday 17 February 2018

Wayne Rooney may be left out of Man United's Europa League tie for his 'own protection'

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney on the bench during the Premier League match at Old Trafford
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney on the bench during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

Chris Bascombe

Wayne Rooney may be left out of Manchester United’s Europa League tie on Thursday for his own ‘protection’.

Jose Mourinho said he was planning to recall the England captain until he complained of a back injury earlier this week.

Mourinho fears if he picks Rooney and there is an under par performance it will subject to the striker to more criticism.

“Wayne Rooney is selected (in the squad). I did not decide yet if I start with him,” said Mourinho.

“He didn’t train yesterday, he did just a little bit of the session on Monday. He had a back problem. So today was the first time he had a training session with the other players and today it was a training session where the intensity and complexity is obviously reducing because we have a game tomorrow.

“So I was completely convinced of playing him tomorrow from the beginning with this situation in the last couple of days, but I am not sure if I do that because of the situation you created with him.

“He can’t afford to have a performance that is not really good. Because I am here to protect him and not to put him in difficult situations I have to analyse whether the best thing for him is to start the game if he is not totally ready for it. So I am going to discuss that with him and the medical staff and decide whether he starts or is on the bench.”

United face Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine at Old Trafford. Having lost their first group game to Feyenoord a fortnight ago, Mourinho demanded a response from his side.

“It is very important. We have to win. We have four matches after this and (if no win tomorrow) you have to win all the last four matches, which is difficult. So it is very important that we win the game.”

Mourinho said United will also be without Luke Shaw, who is ill, but he intends to play a strong side.

“The only thing I can say is I like Sam and I feel sorry because I know it was a dream job,” said Mourinho.

“The second thing I can say is what happened is not going to interfere with my own relationship with him (Allardyce). I like him and respected him before and that is not going to change.

“This is between him and the FA and I have nothing more to say about it really.”

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