Rooney in midfield, Mourinho and Tuanzebe at centre-back - Manchester United boss assesses injury crisis

Rooney in midfield, Mourinho and Tuanzebe at centre-back - Manchester United boss assesses injury crisis

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho could
deploy Wayne Rooney in midfield against Swansea
City after seeing his options dwindle further during
Thursday's derby at Manchester City and joked he
might pick himself at centre-back.
United held out for a goalless draw at the Etihad
Stadium as they withstood sustained second-half
pressure and finished with 10 men after Marouane
Fellaini headbutted Sergio Aguero during the
closing stages.
The Belgium international is set for a three-match
suspension, while Mourinho confirmed Paul Pogba
would not return from a hamstring injury until next
week's Europa League semi-final first leg at Celta
Vigo.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah was deployed as an
emergency midfielder after Fellaini's dismissal but
suffered a dislocated shoulder as United defended a
City corner in what proved to be the last action of
the match.
It means a possible recall in a deeper-lying role for
Rooney, who was an unused substitute at City
despite United being without long-term knee injury
victim Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho pledged not to use his captain in midfield
after he played there with mixed results during the
second half of last season under Louis van Gaal
and for England at Euro 2016.
He briefly went back on his word, unsuccessfully
as Rooney struggled in the 3-1 defeat at Watford
last September, but the current paucity of
alternatives might force his hand.
"Yeah, it's an option," Mourinho said. "We don't
have [midfielders]. We have [Ander] Herrera and
[Michael] Carrick and nothing else.
"Tim Mensah in an emergency can help the team
with strong legs and energy but he's another one
that we miss.
"We are in trouble but will we fight, that's for sure."

United remain fifth in the table, a point behind City
and two shy of Liverpool with a game in hand on
Jurgen Klopp's side. Arsenal are four points behind
the Red Devils in sixth having played a game
fewer.
Despite his current injury woes and the tight nature
of the battle for Champions League qualification,
Mourinho does not regret allowing midfield duo
Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger to
leave mid-season.
"To have lots of players without playing is also
something the players don't want," he explained.
"We didn't tell Morgan: 'We want to sell you.'
Morgan asked: 'Please sell me – I want to go, I
want to play every game.'
"There is always this dilemma of keeping a bigger
squad but the players, they don't want to stay.
"Even sometimes young players, when they are not
playing, they ask to leave. So it is very hard."
Eric Bailly and Daley Blind performed impressively
at centre-back once more against City, with
England duo Chris Smalling (knee) and Phil Jones
(broken toe) still sidelined.

Like Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo also sustained knee
ligament damage against Anderlecht last week and
Mourinho only has youngster Axel Tuanzebe as
centre-back cover – unless he thinks outside the
box when Paul Clement's struggling side visit Old
Trafford on Sunday.
"In this moment the only options we have are Axel,
Eric and Daley. I think Eric and Daley, they played
again absolutely amazing," he said.
"I have to speak with them and see how there are
and see how they feel.
"I am also training hard in the gym so I can be an
option also – Mourinho and Tuanzebe against
Swansea."

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