Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho does not think he will be able to call on any of his injured contingent for the clash against Chelsea on Sunday (5 November) but is prepared to give his crocked cohorts all the time he can afford in order to prove their fitness for the meeting against the Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho has had to make do without the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini for some time now, while Jesse Lingard, who has been included in Gareth Southgate's latest England squad, became the latest injury victim after suffering a knock during the first half of his side's 2-0 win over Benfica in midweek.
Mourinho said that Lingard's injury was minor after the clash against the Portuguese giants, but the 24-year-old now looks set to miss the clash against struggling Chelsea after the United boss delivered a rather pessimistic injury update in his press conference, though he did stress that a final decision on some of his injured stars has not yet been made.
"We have to wait a little bit. Normally the press conference is a bit later in the week - we still have Friday and Saturday," Mourinho said. " I'm not very optimistic, but I don't want to lie by saying there's no chance of recovering, so I prefer just to say two more days to confirm my expectation."
"We are there, we are in... I think the next two days will be important for that decision."
United could be without six important first-team players, while Chelsea, who suffered their joint-biggest Champions League group stage defeat against Roma in midweek, face an anxious wait to see if influential midfielder N'Golo Kante and wing-back Victor Moses are able to play against the Red Devils.
Kante scored against United as Chelsea swept aside Mourinho's men 4-0 in the same fixture last season, though the Portuguese was able to exact revenge when Conte's side visited Old Trafford in April.
Mourinho helped kickstart a trophy-laden era for Chelsea in 2004 and helped the Blues win three Premier League titles during his two spells in charge. The former Real Madrid and Porto boss conceded that clashes against Chelsea have a slightly different feel when compared to matches against other opposition, but insisted that his desire to secure victory remains the same.
"One day you are at one club the next you are at another," Mourinho said. "I have to admit it's a little bit different but, in the end, I want to win like I did with Inter and last season.
"In a couple of years it will be natural. In four or five years people will forget I was Chelsea manager. It's a big match because they are the champions but, by the emotional point of view, it's just one more game."