December 19, 2017 / 4:48 PM / in 8 months

Out of favour Mkhitaryan could return for United's Cup clash

LONDON (Reuters) - Henrikh Mkhitaryan could feature for Manchester United in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final against second-tier Bristol City, although manager Jose Mourinho is unlikely to shuffle his pack much despite a heavy festive programme.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Manchester United Training - Aon Training Complex, Manchester, Britain - November 21, 2017 Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan during training Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/Files

The Armenian playmaker has been left out of eight of the last nine squads with a January move a possibility.

Asked if the 28-year-old former Borussia Dortmund player could face Championship side Bristol City, Mourinho said he may get a rare outing.

“It is possible Micki is involved,” Mourinho was quoted as saying on United’s website (www.manutd.com). “I am making a few changes for the match, but not many because Bristol City are one of the best teams in the Championship and we need to take the game really seriously.”

United won the League Cup last season to give Mourinho his first major trophy at Old Trafford.

This season, however, United are better-placed in the title race, albeit 11 points behind Manchester City in second place, and are in the last-16 of the Champions League.

Mourinho has a strong connection with the League Cup though, having also won it three times with Chelsea during two stints at Stamford Bridge, and will be targeting another Wembley final.

Bristol City are third in the Championship and the Ashton Gate club have already beaten top-flight clubs Watford, Stoke City and Crystal Palace in this season’s League Cup.

“For me now, the Championship is not the Championship of five or 10 years ago. The Championship is now high-quality teams with lots of players that could be playing in the Premier League easily,” Mourinho said of Wednesday’s tie.

Bristol City manager Lee Johnson played down the importance of the tie for his side, saying promotion to the top flight was his priority this season.

“If I was given a ticket to win either the United game or Saturday’s match at QPR, I’d opt for the latter — but on Wednesday the super-competitive side of me will take over,” Johnson told the club’s website (www.bcfc.co.uk).

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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