MANCHESTER: Paul Pogba will alleviate the pressure on Manchester United’s injury-depleted squad in returning for the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo on Thursday, manager Jose Mourinho said Sunday.
The French international midfielder — the world’s most expensive player — has not been in action since limping out of last Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League win over Burnley.
The 24-year-old joined other key players such as leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defensive duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on the sidelines.
“The situation is not easy for us,” Mourinho told BT Sport on Sunday just before hosting strugglers Swansea.
“But the reality is we have two competitions to play for and we have to go with everything we have.
“We are rotating players.
“We don’t have many to do it but Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard, Luke Shaw — they didn’t play the last match (0-0 draw with Manchester City last Thursday) so at least we have four fresh players.”
Mourinho, who is battling on two fronts to qualify for the Champions League either through winning the Europa League or finishing in the top four in the Premier League, then had to watch Shaw limp off in the eighth minute of the Swansea match.
However, Mourinho was able to surprisingly name Spanish midfielders Juan Mata on the bench as he had not been expected to return till the very end of the season after undergoing groin surgery.
The 29-year-old Spaniard’s return comes in the wake of Mourinho imploring Smalling and Jones to fight to come back earlier than predicted to help out Ivory Coast central defender Eric Bailly who has been a rock in the defence but has not been able to be rested.
“Juan Mata is coming back on the bench, a good effort to be ready as soon as possible,” said Mourinho.
“I think Paul (Pogba) also will be ready for our next match. We will fight with everything we have.”