Mkhitaryan return eases Manchester United injury crisis

George Flood
Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit for West Brom clash after 'minor injury'

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to be available for Manchester United's Premier League clash with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday (1 April) after revealing that a "minor injury" confined him to the substitutes' bench for the recent win over Middlesbrough.

A rough international break had threatened to severely deplete Jose Mourinho's stocks ahead of the Baggies' upcoming trip to Old Trafford, with England duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling and Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini all adding their names to a growing injury list that already includes the likes of Paul Pogba and Wayne Rooney. Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will also miss the match due to suspension.

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While Mkhitaryan was unable to play any part in that 3-1 triumph at the Riverside Stadium that followed hot on the heels of an FA Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea and an unconvincing Europa League last-16 second-leg defeat of FC Rostov, he declared himself fully fit after opening the scoring in Armenia's 2-0 World Cup qualifying Group E victory over Kazakhstan in Yerevan.

"I just had a minor injury and couldn't play against Middlesbrough," Mkhitaryan told an Armenian reporter, as relayed by the Manchester Evening News. "Even though I was on the bench. Thank God, everything is fine now, I feel well.

 

"I had a slight injury, I talked with the coach and together we decided, I'd better not play against Middlesbrough not to risk my health. When there is a risk of injury, it is better not play one match than risk missing a longer period."

While defensive duo Jones and Smalling are considered extremely unlikely to play any part against West Brom, Fellaini is expected to be fit after a toe injury picked up during a 1-1 draw with Greece that ruled him out of an eventful friendly against Russia. His availability would help to ease a potential midfield crisis triggered by that Herrera suspension and Pogba's continued recovery from a hamstring problem sustained against Rostov that rendered him unable to join up with the senior France squad for meetings with Luxembourg and Spain.


Captain Rooney was omitted from England's latest squad to face Germany and Lithuania due to a combination of injury issues and a general lack of first-team football, although Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate hinted that he could feature against Middlesbrough. That never happened and the 31-year-old has not played for United at all since a feisty top-flight tie against Bournemouth on 4 March.

Fellow striker James Wilson remains sidelined, although has offered a positive update in the aftermath of a significant anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered while on loan with Championship outfit Derby County in October.

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