José Mourinho has confirmed that he will rotate his Manchester United squad for Tuesday’s final Champions League group stage match against CSKA Moscow. Paul Pogba, who is now suspended for the next three Premier League matches after United decided not to appeal his red card against Arsenal, will start.
“He [Pogba] is very happy to play tomorrow. It's the match that matters. He plays tomorrow. Of course, he's a bit tired because it was a huge match last weekend and just two days to recover for CSKA. But he's very happy to play tomorrow and to try to keep his momentum because since he was back from injury, he's been phenomenal.”
Nemanja Matić put his body on the line to play 90 minutes against Arsenal after limping off last week against Watford, but the Serbian will not be involved on Tuesday.
“Matić is injured and when I say he is injured, he is injured. I am not going to make him play so Matić is out. A couple of others guys are playing every match and they also need a rest. More importantly, the other guys deserve an opportunity to play.”
With Marouane Fellaini still injured, Michael Carrick and Scott McTominay may be in contention to join Pogba and Ander Herrera among the active midfielders. After a stunning performance at the weekend, David De Gea will given the day off, and Sergio Romero will get a turn in goal.
Zlatan Ibrahimović is not technically injured, according to the manager, but needs time to continue his individual rehabilitation schedule. As such, he will not be involved either.
“He is okay but he needs, now and again, specific work on the muscle that supports that knee that went through such a difficult surgery. When he works really hard on that, he gets fatigue and you cannot play with fatigue. It is something that we knew would happen now and again, that he needs to stop playing to become ready for harder work for prevention.”
With the Swede not even on the bench, it raises the question of whether or not Romelu Lukaku will be afforded a rest. The striker could use a day off after being relied on so heavily this season, particularly as he has been struggling for goals as of late. With Anthony Martial also racking up the minutes lately, all of Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be restored to the starting XI.
In the backline, options are more limited. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly remain unavailable, so changes at center-back are unlikely. It would be a surprise if one or both of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia aren’t rested however, and Luke Shaw (remember him?) may even make a rare appearance.
“He's working to have an opportunity and sooner or later, the opportunity will arrive. Because he deserves that opportunity. Selected for tomorrow, yes, for sure. To start or to be on the bench, I cannot answer.”
Mourinho either thinks that Shaw is unlucky to not be seeing more action, or he’s being careful not to scare off any potential January suitors.