Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Thursday’s Manchester derby, joining a host of United players on the sidelines for the crunch fixture.
And even though United are just a point behind their neighbours and therefore just a point away from a Champions League qualification spot, manager Jose Mourinho says the extent of his squad’s injury crisis will force him to play a second-string side as he prioritises the Europa League.
United’s 2-0 win at Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday brings them within a point of fourth-placed City ahead of the derby clash at the Etihad Stadium.
But with the games coming thick and fast and injuries taking a toll on his team, Mourinho says he will rotate his squad again with an eye on the May 4 Europa League semi-final at Spanish club Celta Vigo.
Asked about the chance to overtake City with a win in the derby, the Portuguese said:
” But if we beat Celta we go to the final.”
Man City have doubts over the fitness of David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, John Stones and Fernandinho, while Ilkay Gundogan and Bacary Sagna are out.
United are missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as well as Pogba, but Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have been cleared to play after injury scares.
Jose Mourinho: “Yes it is important for us to play in the Champions League but this club wants trophies. We cannot give the club the Premier League. We have a 25 percent chance to win the Europa League and we have to put everything on it. I will rotate the players again, I will rest some players again At least in terms of expectation for the game, the emotions, it is better a derby with one point difference than with four.”
Pep Guardiola: “We will improve next season and be stronger. We arrived (at Wembley) and we competed, created more chances than our opponent, and hit the post. It was a little bit similar like what happened in the season. The teams does not need to do a lot of things score goals [against us]. We have some problem to score but we play like we want.”