Jose threatens to field U-23s against Palace

LONDON • Jose Mourinho said he may field an Under-23 side for Manchester United's last Premier League game of the season against Crystal Palace, after Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw joined his long injury list in Sunday's 1-1 home draw against Swansea City.

The United manager has become increasingly exasperated by the fixture demands on his side, a situation caused by their extended participation in three Cup competitions, and is juggling a lengthy injury list.

"You are punished for doing well and if we beat Celta Vigo (in the Europa League semi-finals), we have the final on the Wednesday and Crystal Palace on the Sunday," Mourinho said.

"Before that we play Southampton two days before and, with all respect, we would be playing in (disastrous) consequences.

"Maybe I can bring (academy coach) Nicky Butt and his team to play against Crystal Palace, and hopefully Palace don'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."

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of Mourinho's long-term absentees, has undergone surgery on his damaged right knee and will make a full recovery, his agent Mino Raiola said yesterday.

United's leading scorer, with 28 goals in all competitions, suffered knee ligament damage during the 2-1 Europa League quarter-final win over Anderlecht last month and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

The 35-year-old Swede, whose contract expires at the end of the season, travelled to the United States to undergo surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and has started his rehabilitation.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic has undergone successful knee surgery. He will make a full recovery and has not suffered a career-ending injury," Raiola said in a statement.

Ibrahimovic had addressed the injury on Instagram and vowed to come back stronger, while United team-mates wore his and defender Marcos Rojo's names on their training shirts prior to their 2-0 Premier League win over Burnley on April 23.

United travel to Spain to face Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tomorrow.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Jose threatens to field U-23s against Palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe