Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has taken a thinly veiled swipe at the Belgium national team over their handling of Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini ahead of the Premier League clash with Liverpool.
De Rode Duivels were already assured of qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer prior to their final two group matches this month, but nonetheless selected both Lukaku and Fellaini in their squad despite both suffering from recent injury concerns.
Lukaku picked up an ankle injury in United's 4-0 win over Crystal Palace – though a scan later revealed no significant damage – while Fellaini had recently recovered from an Achilles problem that had forced him to miss the Champions League trip to CSKA Moscow.
Though Belgium boss Roberto Martinez opted to leave out Lukaku for the 4-3 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fellaini started the game. However, he was replaced after 29 minutes with knee ligament damage which will keep him out of the trip to Liverpool and for an additional "couple of weeks".
Martinez confirmed that Lukaku has returned to 100% fitness ahead of the final qualifying game against Cyprus on Tuesday (10 October), and though he did not start the game United's top scorer this term came off the bench to score in a comfortable 4-0 win.
The ex-Everton forward appears to have come through the 24-minute cameo unscathed, but Mourinho is nevertheless fuming over the treatment of his players, who he will assess when they return to the club's Carrington training ground this week.
"If he plays tonight it is because he recovers," the two-time Champions League winner told Sky Sports ahead of the visit to Liverpool. "It is a very important match for them, they need [to win] the match to qualify. If he can't play, play another one.
"[Fellaini's injury] is not a blow it is no problem. We do not cry with injuries, we may cry with the process that leads to the injuries but we do not cry because of the injuries. We just trust the players that are going to play. It is not just international teams. We do not have just injuries in international teams."
Mourinho was also asked for an update regarding the fitness of Paul Pogba, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring problem picked up in the Champions League win over FC Basel. The Portuguese coach has described the problem as "long-term" but has dismissed speculation the France midfielder could miss up to three months of action.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss merely responded, "no idea" when probed over Pogba's possible return. Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also remain on the sidelines as they recover from knee injuries.
Antonio Valencia is set to start after he missed Ecuador's final World Cup qualifier against Argentina due to suspension. Phil Jones is a doubt, however, after withdrawing from the England squad during the international break.