LONDON. – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said there is a chance Wayne Rooney will return to the first-team for tonight’s Europa League clash with Anderlecht. United were denied by a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Anderlecht in Brussels, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring a vital away goal midway through the first-half. Rooney missed that match with an ankle injury and hasn’t played for United since their 0-0 English Premier League draw with West Brom, at the start of the month.
However, in his pre-match Press conference yesterday, Mourinho told reporters that Rooney had a chance of making the substitutes’ bench for the second-leg of their Europa League tie.
“He’s working now, he’s improving and if in this training session [yesterday afternoon] the answer is positive, I would select him to be on the bench tomorrow,” Mourinho commented.
“He’s experienced and has know-how of this knock-out phase – I think he’s a player that can be useful tomorrow (tonight).
“If we need a goal, he can help us. If we need to keep a result, to keep the ball, to keep control of the game by having possession, he can help us too. So, hopefully his answer in the training session is positive.” While Rooney is set to make a return, Mourinho confirmed that United’s other absentees remain side-lined.
Juan Mata is likely to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also unable to feature, with knee and toe injuries respectively.
“No injuries from the game (against Chelsea) but also nobody recovered so no Mata, Jones, Smalling. They are out and still out,” added Mourinho.
“And Wayne is the only one that is possible, if it’s possible. I cannot confirm now but the paparazzi that live in the Lowry Hotel, they can take the picture when we go to the hotel at six o’clock and see if Wayne is selected.
“I would like him to be selected, yes, I would like to have him as an option.”
Meanwhile, Ashley Young felt Manchester United’s stunning victory over Chelsea set a benchmark ahead of the conclusion of their Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht tonight.
United revitalised their season and blew open the English Premier League title race by sinking leaders Chelsea 2-0 on Sunday in a tactical masterclass by manager Jose Mourinho.
Despite dominating last week’s first leg against Anderlecht, United returned from Brussels with a 1-1 draw, but Young says they have no doubts about their ability to finish the job.
“We have felt that kind of performance coming,” said the versatile England international, United’s captain against Chelsea. There have been a lot of draws at home. I don’t think a lot of people saw that scoreline coming or the type of game, to be honest. We did.
United’s win over Chelsea enhanced their chances of securing a top-four finish in the league, leaving them four points behind fourth-place Manchester City with a game in hand.
Fixtures (aggregate scores in brackets)
Today (All 9:05pm)
Genk (BEL) v Celta Vigo (ESP) (2-3)
Besiktas (TUR) v Lyon (FRA) (1-2)
Schalke (GER) v Ajax (NED) (0-2)
Manchester United (ENG) v Anderlecht (BEL) (1-1). – AFP.