Jose Mourinho has admitted that Manchester United's current injury list is making it difficult to rotate his squad as they play every three days.
The Red Devils take on Everton in the Premier League on Monday (1 January) followed by Derby County five days later in the third round of the FA Cup. That will make it 11 games in just over a month for Mourinho's team.
Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the latest entrants into what is quite a lengthy injury list. The former suffered a head injury during United's recent draw against Southampton, and after the game, the Portuguese coach confirmed that the latter is also injured and will be out for at least a month.
The duo now join Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia, who are the other injury casualties. The Ivory Coast defender has not played since the beginning of November after suffering an ankle injury, which now requires surgery keeping him out until February.
Fellaini has also been sidelined since November after suffering a knee injury while on international duty. He is expected to return in January, but the manager did not provide an exact date for his comeback.
Valencia, meanwhile, has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. Carrick, on the other hand, has played just once this campaign and is currently recovering from a heart problem.
Apart from the injuries, Ashley Young will be missing for the next three games after he was handed a three-game ban for violent conduct. The winger, who has been a key player for Mourinho in recent months, appeared to elbow Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic during their draw on Saturday (30 December).
Mourinho believes the Red Devils exit from the Carabao Cup is a blessing in disguise since they are missing too many players to accommodate two additional games in January. United, the defending EFL Cup champions were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Bristol City.
"The boys are trying, but we have lots of problems in the team and we lost Lukaku and Ibrahimovic for a month," Mourinho said, as quoted on United's official site. "That means Ibra stops his run to recovery, his running for many, many months in a period when he needs to play and to have minutes, but now we lose him for a month and then we lose Lukaku, but I don't know for how long."
"Marouane Fellaini, I don't remember the last time he played. It was a long time ago that I don't even remember. [I think] it was a match at home against Brighton? I don't remember, but it is a long, long time ago.
"Michael Carrick, it was in pre-season [when he last played in the league] and I don't remember him playing during the season [in any other games] so we have problems. We have difficulty to rotate players," the Red Devils boss added.
"I think not playing in the cup semi-final is a good thing for us because we have no players to play these two extra matches in January," Mourinho explained. "And now we have to cope with Everton and Derby County and, after that, we have an open space of nine or 10 days before Stoke City. Hopefully, in this period we can rest, we can work and we can recover some players to attack the second part of the season."