JOSE Mourinho’s defensive worries have been eased with the news that Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are all in contention to face Celta Vigo in Spain tonight.
It was looking at one point that the Manchester United boss might be forced to play midfielder Michael Carrick at the heart of the defence, but his injury problems have taken a turn for the better.
It’s a welcome boost for Mourinho who, in addition to the two Europa semi finals, will take his side to Arsenal and Spurs all inside the next ten days as a rollercoaster season reaches its climax.
Jones or Smalling will partner Bailly in the centre, with Daley Blind likely to fill in for the injured-again Luke Shaw whose season has gone from bad to worse.
Record signing Paul Pogba could return whilst Juan Mata has made a remarkable recovery after undergoing surgery on an injured groin. More good news for Jose with just three weeks of the season to go.
United can, of course, still qualify for next season’s Champions League via the Premier, although success in the Europa League looks the most favourable option.
More importantly, it is the only trophy United have never won – and Mourinho would love to put that right in his first season in charge at Old Trafford.
“I know that it is the only competition that Manchester United as a club have never won and it would be great to close the circle and say ‘we are a club that won every single competition in the football world’,” said Mourinho at his pre-match press conference.
Celta have lost their last three matches and currently sit in 11th place in La Liga, but they are normally a force to be reckoned with on home turf. Mourinho, whose side are unbeaten in 11, will not be taking them lightly.
Speaking about his returning players and as quoted on the Manchester Evening News website – http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/man-utd-fixtures-celta-vigo – the United boss said: “In relation to the Europa League it’s very important they have come back on time.
“We have two matches in one week against Celta and so it is important to have everyone back. The perspective is different because the Europa League becomes even more important and it’s good to have the players back that gives us more options.”