Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not make the matchday squad for Manchester United's 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday


  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan was omitted from the matchday squad for Saturday's win over Newcastle.
  • Pogba made his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury during that 4-1 triumph at Old Trafford.
  • Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have all been rested for Champions League trip.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has seemingly dismissed any notion of a possible rift with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and confirmed that Paul Pogba will start Wednesday night's (22 November) penultimate Champions League Group A fixture against FC Basel.

Former Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mkhitaryan, who endured a difficult start to life under the Portuguese coach following his move to England last summer, was surprisingly dropped from the matchday squad entirely for the 4-1 Premier League win over Newcastle United.

Many speculated that such a decision was made off the back of his anonymous display in the slender defeat at Chelsea prior to the recent international break and it has even been suggested that the Armenia international is fighting to save his Old Trafford career after suffering a notable dip in form since kicking of 2017-18 with an impressive run.

Questioned regarding Mkhitaryan's absence during a pre-Basel press conference, Mourinho insisted the omission came as he finally sought to pair Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford together.

"There is always a question about someone who is not playing or is not in the best form," he told reporters. "There are no questions about Anthony Martial and no questions about Chris Smalling.

"There are always questions about somebody in a certain moment, a certain match and a certain period that didn't play. The story is always the same. In some positions, when you don't have injuries, you have lots of options in other positions. In this moment, we have Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay so I can imagine, next week, you are going to ask - why is this player not playing?

"Micki is not playing because we had lots of options for that match. I decided to play Marcus Rashford and Martial together. For many weeks, the questions was - why do they not play together? Now the question is why is Micki not playing. The answer is every simple - until the international board change the rules, I can only start with 11."

Mourinho had already confirmed that centre-back Chris Smalling would start in Basel with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly both sidelined and, according to the Manchester Evening News, has since revealed to Swiss broadcasters SRF that Pogba will also feature from the off again, despite concerns over the condition of the relaid playing surface at St Jakob-Park.

The influential Frenchman suffered a hamstring injury during United's initial 3-0 home win over Basel in September and missed 12 games across all competitions before returning with an impressive 70-minute outing against Newcastle in which he both scored and laid on a goal for compatriot Martial.

As reported by The Guardian, Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia have all been rested for the trip to Switzerland, meanwhile.

Club captain Michael Carrick remains sidelined after his recovery from a calf injury was followed by reports of a mystery illness, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who came off the bench at the weekend following seven months out with knee ligament damage, will remain a substitute.