Manchester United manager José Mourinho says he may play the club's under-23 stars against Crystal Palace if they reach the Europa League final on May 24. The former Real Madrid boss has talked at length about the Red Devils' hectic schedule relentlessly this season and thinks his side are being punished for reaching the latter stages of Europe's secondary competition.
United are beset by injuries after playing nine games in April are alone and head into their Europa League semi-final first leg against Celta Vigo on Thursday without any specialist central defenders after Eric Bailly suffered an ankle problem during his side's draw with Swansea City.
Mourinho, who also lost Luke Shaw against the Swans, believes Manchester United could be set to face potentially disastrous circumstances in the coming weeks and says he may have no choice but to call on Nicky Butt's youth starlets for the last game of the season against Palace.
"You are punished for doing well and if we beat Celta we have the final on the Wednesday and we play against Crystal Palace on the Sunday (May 21)," the Manchester United was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
"Before that, we play Southampton two days before and, with all respect, we would be playing in disaster consequences. Maybe I can bring (academy coach) Nicky Butt and his team to play against Crystal Palace and hopefully Palace doesn't need a game to stay in the division because it would be very, very bad if they needed the points for us to play with the under-23s. It's difficult."
Manchester United slumped to their 10th home league draw of the season against the Swans but they did extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 25 matches, a new club record.
Despite the air of invincibility, Mourinho's men are currently out of the top four, with Europa League success their biggest hope of Champions League qualification next season. The Portuguese will be buoyed by the returns of midfield duo Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini for the clash against Celta, who have impressed in La Liga this season.