Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Phil Jones and Eric Bailly will miss Saturday’s clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
The pair were absent for Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United last weekend and Mourinho revealed ahead of the defeat to FC Basel that only Bailly had a small chance of featuring against Chris Hughton’s side.
Paul Pogba received another encouraging run out, coming off with 65 minutes gone, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic made another late cameo as he continues to build up fitness after seven months on the sidelines.
And Mourinho, speaking at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game, noted that he would continue to phase the latter pair in whilst adding that Bailly had not recovered in time.
“Bailly and Jones – they are out, but we are okay because we have Smalling, Rojo and Lindelof,” he said.
“We managed to give [Zlatan] 15/20 minutes in both matches, he needs more of that, so hopefully tomorrow we play him again.
“Paul is still on this process where he cannot reach the fatigue limit, he cannot go more than 65/70 minutes and, with so many games consecutively, we need to protect such an important player for us.”
The significance of having Pogba and Zlatan back in the changing room cannot be underestimated. These are two characters who will be expected to act as the mouthpiece for this side’s ruthless, serial winning mentality this season, but we should expect too much from them just yet.
They remain some way off full fitness and Mourinho will want to avoid any overexposure ahead of a crucial December months.
Meanwhile, supporters will hope to see Marcos Rojo build on what was an excellent return to action during the week.