MANCHESTER, Sporting Alert – Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is yet to decide on whether to start Wayne Rooney in Thursday’s Europa League Group A clash against Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford.
Live coverage of this game will be on Fox Sports 1 USA, with WatchESPN, Fox Soccer 2GO USA and MUTV Online also providing live streaming. Follow livescores on www.livescores.com.
Rooney was left on the bench in the Red Devils’ 4-1 victory over Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday and Mourinho could keep the England international on the bench again.
The Manchester United captain has been selected for the game, his club manager said, but could be held out because Mourinho wants to protect him from a backlash, should he deliver a below-par performance.
The Old Trafford boss insisted that his decision to drop Rooney against the Foxes over the weekend for tactical reasons and maintained that his skipper will return to the starting side when the time his right.
At the same time, Rooney also only returned to full training on Wednesday after a slight back problem, so Mourinho is not prepared to rush him back.
“Wayne Rooney is selected, I didn’t decide yet if I start with him,” the Portuguese coach said.
“He didn’t train yesterday, he did just a little bit of the session on Monday.
“Today was the first time that he had a training session with the other players and today is the training session where the intensity and the complexity is obviously reduced because we have a game tomorrow.
“So I was completely convinced of playing him tomorrow from the beginning. But with this situation in the last couple of days I’m not sure if I’ll do that because, with the situation that you create for him, I think really he can’t afford to have a performance that is not really good.
“Because I’m here to protect him and not to put him in difficult situations, I have to analyse if the best thing for him is to start the game if he is not totally ready for it, so I’m going to discuss that with him and the medical staff.”
Meanwhile, Manchester United have confirmed that playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan will again be absent with a thigh problem, while left-back Luke Shaw was sent home due to illness.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was a late substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Feyenoord in the Europa League opener, will start in the attack on Thursday.
Attacker Anthony Martial has also recovered from an injury and will be available to play.
“He has now recovered from the contusion in his calf and in his ankle,” the boss noted.
“He has recovered and is ready for tomorrow.”
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