Jose Mourinho has given injury updates on Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan after Manchester United’s 4-1 victory against Fenerbahce in the Europa League.
Smalling started the game alongside Eric Bailly at the heart of the defence, but was replaced at half-time by Marcos Rojo after suffering a minor muscle injury. With United already 3-0 up and cruising, Mourinho decided to take off the 26-year-old as a precautionary measure, with the crunch clash against Chelsea on Sunday in mind.
“He had a bad muscular feeling,” the Portuguese boss told MUTV. “We were 3-0 up so we decided to change. Hopefully he can recover for the weekend.”
Mourinho also explained why he decided to leave Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the squad for the game, and confirmed that the winger is slowly working his way back to full fitness.
Mkhitaryan has not featured for United since his shambolic performance in United’s 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City last month. His lack of playing time for United has already raised doubts about his long-term future at the club, but Mourinho insisted that the Armenian has to work more in order to be fully fit and ready to return to action.
“The situation is that we played with Lingard, with Mata and Martial,” Mourinho told reporters. “I am not an Einstein, I don’t know a tactical system to play with four wingers at the same time. He has to work more to get the intensity and the real fitness to play at the high level.
“To have him here tonight on the bench and to give him 15 to 20 minutes, like I did with Memphis, I thought it would be better for him to work the way he did yesterday and much harder, obviously.
“I thought it would be much better for him to work today, like he did in the specific session, than to wait for his chance. But he is ready. He is ready very soon.”