Jose Mourinho finds himself in a difficult position ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League game with Feyenoord on Thursday night.
Defeats away to Feyenoord and Fenerbahce leave Mourinho’s men outside the qualification spots in Group A, but a win on Thursday night would mean that a point against Zorya Luhansk in the final game would be enough to guarantee qualification to the next round.
In other words, this is a must win game. And yet, at the same time, Mourinho will want to keep several players fit for Sunday’s game with West Ham in the Premier League – another must win encounter for a side now nine points off the top.
With that in mind, here are three players that must not start on Thursday night.
The 35-year-old featured against Arsenal on Saturday, acting as the nucleus of a convincing, controlled performance. Mourinho will be determined to keep the Englishman – who cannot, according to the 53-year-old, play more than once a week – fresh for the contest with Slaven Bilic’s side on Sunday.
It ought to be remembered that, for all his otherworldly brilliance, Rashford is still a teenager – a developing prospect, above anything else.
They have to be treated with caution and deployed selectively, nurtured as opposed to thrown straight into the lion’s pit. Michael Owen, just like Rashford today, was thrown into the fray every week, and the ramifications later on in his career were cataclysmic to say the least.
And given that Rashford has started ten of United’s last 12 games, one suspects that the 19-year-old needs a rest.
It isn’t often that Jones enjoys two consecutive full games at United, but he managed it against Swansea City and Arsenal. His energy levels, especially for someone who hadn’t made a first team appearance for ten months, have been truly exceptional, but Mourinho will be cautious to field Jones – perhaps the most injury prone player in United’s history – so soon after his exploits against Arsenal.