Jose Mourinho says he may be needed at centre-back with Timothy Fosu-Mensah expected to miss season

James Ducker
Manchester United still have a lot to play for but with dwindling resources - Manchester United

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder at the end of Thursday's Manchester derby in the latest blow for Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester United utility player was introduced as an 86th-minute substitute but left the field in pain after landing awkwardly on his right shoulder during a challenge.

Fosu-Mensah, 19, posted two pictures on Instagram on Thursday of him receiving treatment but scans that night are thought to have confirmed his worst fears. He will undergo more assessment on Saturday to determine the full extent of the injury and establish if there is any serious ligament damage to the shoulder.

Fosu-Mensah's injury, which Mourinho had described as "significant" leaves the United manager without eight senior players for the visit of Swansea City to Old Trafford on Sunday.

As well as the injured Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, United will be without Marouane Fellaini for the next three matches after he was sent off for headbutting City striker Sergio Aguero in the 84th minute of Thursday's goalless draw.

But the Football Association confirmed on Friday that Fellaini will not receive an extra game ban for his angry reaction to being sent off, even though the United midfielder has been warned about his future conduct after initially refusing to leave the field.

Mourinho said Pogba, the France midfielder, will be fit for the first leg of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo in Spain next Thursday after he missed the derby with a muscle problem and suggested Mata may be the next to follow.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah made a short appearance in the Manchester derby but still picked up an injury Credit: PA

But with Eric Bailly - his only fit, recognised centre-half – being forced to play all the time because of the club’s defensive crisis and Daley Blind operating as a makeshift central defender, Mourinho joked that he may have to think outside the box against Swansea.

“In this moment he [Bailly] is the only option we have,” the United manager said. “It’s Axel, Eric and Daley. I think Eric and Daley they played again absolutely amazingly. I have to speak with them and see how they are, see how they feel. I’m also training hard in the gym so I can also be an option. Mourinho and Tuanzebe against Swansea.”

Mourinho had stated when he took charge of United last summer that he had no intention of using Wayne Rooney as a midfielder, a position the England captain had filled under Louis van Gaal. But Mourinho said he may now have to consider deploying Rooney in midfield given his shortage of options there.

“Yes, he’s an option [in midfield],” Mourinho said. “We don’t have [any other players there]. We have [Ander] Herrera and [Michael] Carrick and nothing else. And Tim Fosu-Mensah, like today, an emergency to help the team, strong legs, energy, he’s another one that we will miss, so we are in trouble but we will fight, that’s for sure.”

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Despite the shortage of midfielders, Mourinho said he had no regrets selling Morgan Schneiderlin to Everton and Bastian Schweinsteiger to Chicago Fire and hopes the greater resilience the squad has under him will win through over the remainder of the campaign.

“[It was] our decision,” Mourinho said of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger’s departures. “To have lots of players without playing is something that the players don’t want. We didn’t tell Morgan, ‘We want to sell you’. Morgan asked and said, ‘Please sell me, I want to go and play every game’, so sometimes there is always this dilemma of keeping a bigger squad, but then the players don’t want to stay.

Mourinho does not regret the sales made in January Credit: Rex Features

“Even the younger players, when they are not playing, they ask to leave, so it’s very hard. We arrive in an extreme situation where - and I think it must be unique in football - we have two cruciate ligaments in the same match [Ibrahimovic and Rojo]. In my career, I had one [player with a] cruciate in 17 years. One. And now, against Anderlecht, I have two in one match. We are very unlucky is the only thing we can say, and the other small injuries, the Pogba one, [Antonio] Valencia last week, are the injuries of fatigue, the accumulation of matches, which is normal.

“Smalling and Jones were with the English national team, training. So maybe it’s a blessing, an opportunity to make the team stronger, maybe it's an opportunity to make them mentally stronger. Maybe it's a blessing, so let’s see if they can comeback.

“I think the first one to come back is Mata, which will give us another option in attack, but in reality what we need now is one of the two centre-backs to be back.”

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Mourinho said he was relying on the spirit in the squad carrying them through. “The group was a nice group, honestly, the group was a nice group,” he said. “Good people, good boys, committed people, so I think Van Gaal left here a good group of boys with very good relations between them, and that I got in my hands.

“I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, they missed belief, they missed this extra bit that brings resilience, that brings you fight, and they have it [now] so the group, next July 9, when we meet again for next season, is a strong group.

“So the new players, when they will arrive, will find a group more ready to go for big things, but the reality is that we are fighting to win the Europa League and we are fighting to try to finish fourth, so let’s go.”

Neither United nor City will embark on an immediate post-season tour with Mourinho and Pep Guardiola keen to ensure their players enjoy a long rest before reporting back for pre-season in early July. Both will take part in a pre-season tour of the United States in July.

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