• United boss told reporters they must ask the club captain about his future.
  • Mourinho explains Luke Shaw still has to work harder to win first-team role.
  • 21-year-old defender urged to follow example set by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is unable to guarantee Wayne Rooney will still be at the club at the end of the season.

The club captain has slowly been phased out of the United first team this season and has not started a league match since mid-December. The Daily Telegraph reports there is still the possibility of the 31-year-old becoming the next high-profile player to join the Chinese Super League, with their transfer window remaining open until 28 February.

Speaking ahead of United's Europa League second-leg clash with Saint-Etienne, Mourinho insisted he has no intention of forcing Rooney out of the club. The United boss did, however, admit the decision will ultimately rest with the player.

When asked if Rooney will remain with the club until the end of the season, Mourinho replied: "You have to ask him. If Rooney one day wants to leave the club then it isn't because of me. I will never force a legend out. You have to ask him, this isn't a question for me."

Rooney did not travel to France for Wednesday's match having only just returned to training earlier this morning after a minor injury. The club's record goal-scorer will be assessed this week before a decision is made on whether he will be ready for Sunday's EFL Cup final against Southampton.

Luke Shaw's hopes of being involved in that match seem slim. The former Southampton defender has started just once in 2017 and was again left out of the United squad that flew to France on Tuesday, despite United holding a comfortable 3-0 lead after the first leg.

Wayne Rooney
Mourinho insists he will never force Rooney out of Old Trafford. Getty

Addressing the 21-year-old's absence, Mourinho said: "Luke has to wait for his chance, he has to work better and better, knowing that I give nothing for free. When I give something for the players it is expensive for me, it is not cheap. They have to work really hard every day, they have to play well, so he has to wait and in this moment he is behind the others."

Both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial have had to endure spells on the sidelines this season having initially struggled to win over the United boss. Mourinho has now urged Shaw to follow the Armenian's example if he wants to reclaim his spot.

"Potentially he has many things that I like, but one thing is potentially and another thing is on the pitch to express all the qualities I like a player to express. He has to keep working like Mkhitaryan did for a long time."