Jose Mourinho has confirmed Manchester United will be without injured trio Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling for a 'long time' after the they picked up injuries during the recently concluded international break.
Mata underwent a surgery to fix a groin problem during the two-week break and is set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future. The Spaniard is United's second highest goal scorer behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his loss will be a major blow going into the final months of the campaign.
Jones and Smalling picked up injuries while on international duty with England with both defenders returning to Old Trafford midway through the break. The former picked up a foot injury during a training session, while the latter pulled out of the Three Lions squad with an unspecified injury.
Paul Pogba, meanwhile, could return for United's midweek clash against Everton after recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained prior to the international break. Mourinho refused to confirm his involvement on Tuesday (4 April) but made it clear that he is not a long-term worry unlike the aforementioned trio.
"I think Mata is out for a long time, Jones and Smalling for a long time, but I cannot say on Pogba. I cannot say he is ready for Tuesday because I don't know. I don't think he is such a long-term injury like the others," Mourinho said, as quoted by United's official site.
"Against Everton, we'll try to play our best team and try to win the match. After Everton, we go to Sunderland with the same perspective. After Sunderland, comes the Europa League and then I don't know."
The Red Devils are lagging behind in the race for a place in the top four in the Premier League and are currently five-points behind fourth placed Manchester City but have played one game fewer than their city rivals.
The Portuguese manager has made it clear that the Europa League, where they are in the quarter-finals, is a priority over a top four finish and indicated that he could rest his key players in the Premier League to focus on winning in Europe, which will guarantee them a place in the Champions League next season even if they finish outside the top four.
"It's then possible you see me play in the Premier League with a team where I'm going to protect the players I consider fundamental for the Europa League. But only if the results in the next matches put us in the situation where mathematically it becomes almost impossible to do it [finish in the top four]," the former Real Madrid manager explained.
"I go with mathematics. Until it's mathematically impossible, we keep trying and, because this week is a week without the Europa League, we have nothing to think about Europe so this week is easy from the focus point of view."
"We have to play Everton and Sunderland and these two matches are where we have to go for them. We're thinking about the Premier League and nothing else. After the match against Sunderland, we have Anderlecht. The quarter-finals of the Europa League are very important for us," he added.