Jose Mourinho has given an early indication of the Manchester United team that will face Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday (13 April) after the Red Devils beat Sunderland 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.
The Portuguese manager confirmed that United will be without Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, who are all out injured. The first three are long-term absentees. David De Gea will also miss the clash against the Belgian club after picking up a hip injury ahead of the Sunderland clash.
Mourino expects the same team that beat David Moyes' side on Sunday to travel to Belgium with the addition of Antonio Valencia, who missed out on the trip to the Stadium of Light. The Red Devils boss is facing an injury crisis in defence as he has just two fit central defenders. He is hoping his squad can cope with the hectic schedule.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his goal-scoring run with his 28th in all competitions against Sunderland and will lead the line against Anderlecht. Mourinho again reserved special praise for the 35-year-old, who continues to impress despite being in the latter stages of his career.
"We have lots of injuries. I don't think it's even possible for us to rotate a lot. Jones, Smalling, Mata, Rooney, Young — all these people are out," Mourinho said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
"I think Valencia is the only one who can recover to play Thursday. This is our team, the ones who played (vs Sunderland) and the ones on the bench.
"It's around this that we have to do it. Big effort from the players. No central defenders, just these two [Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly] but we keep fighting," he added.
"He was very good. Physically he showed amazing conditions and Thursday he will be there again," added Mourinho. "The guy is showing no problems. He only stopped when he was suspended. He's looking very fit."
United are fighting for a place in the top four in the Premier League in the hope of qualifying for the Champions League next season, but can also make it to Europe's elite club competition by winning the Europa League, which is Mourinho's preferred way to do it.