(Reuters) - Manchester United’s injured players can utilise the international break to regain full fitness while key squad members can get much-needed rest, manager Jose Mourinho has said.
United midfielders Michael Carrick (calf) and Paul Pogba (hamstring) have been injured since September while long-term absentees Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, who sustained knee injuries last season, are yet to recover.
Mourinho’s team head into the international break following a 1-0 league defeat at champions Chelsea which left them second in the standings, eight points behind leaders and local rivals Manchester City.
“We have the group of players which are the ones that we hope will recover as soon as possible,” Mourinho told the club’s website. (www.manutd.com)
“They have to work every day but they are in a good position now. Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Rojo, Fellaini. They are in good positions so I think we can go into this part of the season, the Christmas period, and after, in a strong position.”
United have won all four of their Champions League games and are on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stages while also competing to retain the League Cup title.
With nine matches to be played across all competitions in December, Mourinho is hopeful that his key players, who were not selected for their national teams for this month’s friendlies, get a well-earned break.
“They (international players) all disappear and then we have a couple... like (Chris) Smalling and (Ander) Herrera and they really deserve, after so many matches, to have a week off which I’m going to give them,” Mourinho said.
Following the international break, United host Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Nov. 18.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty