Jose Mourinho confirmed that Daley Blind will miss Manchester United's game against Southampton on Wednesday (17 May) after the Dutchman played the entire 90 minutes during the Red Devils' 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane scored at the start of the first and second halves respectively before Wayne Rooney pulled a goal back in the 71st minute in what was the final game at White Hart Lane before it was demolished to make way for a new 61,000-seater stadium. Mourinho made eight changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo on Thursday (11 May).
The Portuguese manager chose to shift the entire focus on the Europa League when it became apparent that making it to the top four in the Premier League was a challenge. Moreover, United were besieged with injury troubles and Mourinho made it clear that it was impossible to fight on two fronts with just 15 players.
The 20-time English champions are in the final of the Europa League, but unlike their opponents Ajax, who have 12 days to prepare, United will have just three days after the final weekend of the league on 21 May. Mourinho has opted to rotate his squad and dip into the reserves to ensure he keeps all his key players fit for the summit clash in Stockholm on 24 May.
The Red Devils are without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who have been ruled out for the rest of the campaign and therefore the manager is unlikely to risk many of his top stars in the final two games against Southampton and Crystal Palace. Mourinho, meanwhile, revealed that he has a good idea of the starting XI for the Europa League final, but admitted that he could change his mind based on individual performances until the end of the season.
"The most important thing for us is there were no injuries and some people were having a proper rest. [Daley] Blind had to play 90 minutes but the next match is for Blind to rest and we have to go like this, step by step, to rest people," Mourinho said after the loss against Tottenham in the final game at White Hart Lane, as quoted on United's official site.
"Yes they were today, and against Man City, Swansea and Arsenal, and it'll be the same in the next match against Southampton and the last match against Crystal Palace. When people say that we gambled by going for the Europa League, we didn't gamble because nobody can play two big competitions with 15 players and this is what we had at the time," the Portuguese manager added talking about team selection being influenced due to the final as well as injury troubles.
"We didn't gamble, it was a compulsory option. So I am happy with the situation today. The ones that needed to play played 90 minutes and I rested a few people. There were no injuries and it's one less match to play because at this moment the Premier League matches for us are matches we don't want to play.
"I analyse the individual performances of the players, try to understand who can give me a little bit more for the final. Of course I have in my mind already what I think is going to be the team but the players can influence decisions with positive or negative performances," Mourinho said about his team selection for the Europa League final.