Chris Smalling is a doubt for Manchester United's trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday (23 October) after Jose Mourinho confirmed the defender had suffered a muscular injury during the Red Devils' 4-1 win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday night (20 October). He was withdrawn at half-time during their Europa League clash and the Portuguese manager is hoping he recovers ahead of their clash against Chelsea.
The England international struggled to get into the team at the start of the season with Daley Blind and Eric Bailly ahead of him, but with the former moving to left-back, he has cemented his place in the starting XI alongside the Ivory Coast international. The 26-year-old, who has also been given the captain's armband in Wayne Rooney's absence, has played every minute of the last four league games, and his absence will be a big blow ahead of a crucial clash against title rivals Chelsea.
"He was not okay. He had a bad muscular feeling and because the result was good we made the decision to change it but hopefully he will recover," Mourinho told United's official site when asked about Smalling's substitution at half-time.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also a doubt for the clash against the Blues on Sunday after again being omitted from the first-team squad for the game against the Turkish club. The Armenian international was deemed fit ahead of United's clash against Liverpool, but did not make the squad for the clash against the Reds and again missed out on Tuesday.
The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker has struggled to settle down in the Premier League since his arrival this summer while he has also been hampered by injury issues. But the manager indicated that he preferred to leave him back at Carrington to continue training and build fitness, as he already had plenty of attacking players at his disposal for the game against Fenerbahce.
"The situation is that we played with Lingard, with Mata and Martial. I am not an Einstein, I don't know a tactical system to play with four wingers at the same time. He has to work more to get the intensity and the real fitness to play at the high level," Mourinho said when asked about Mkhitaryan's continued absence, as quoted on United's official site.
"To have him here tonight on the bench and to give him 15 to 20 minutes, like I did with Memphis, I thought it would be better for him to work the way he did yesterday and much harder, obviously.
"I thought it would be much better for him to work today, like he did in the specific session, than to wait for his chance. But he is ready. He is ready very soon," the Portuguese coach added.