Misfiring United hamstrung by Sanchez's long spell out

MANCHESTER • Just when Manchester United could do with some much-needed firepower after an insipid goal-less draw with Crystal Palace last time out, Jose Mourinho was dealt a blow with news that Chile forward Alexis Sanchez faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

United released a statement on Thursday saying they were investigating the severity of the problem the 29-year-old had suffered.

"No scans yet but the player is experienced, the player knows what the injury is," the United manager told Sky Sports yesterday morning ahead of today's Premier League away clash with Southampton. "And also, from the top of my experience, the painful scream, and the way the injury happened, I know that it is going to be for a long time.

"It is not a little muscle injury that, in one week or 10 days, the player is ready. For me and also Alexis, the feeling before the scans is that the grade is different than (Victor) Lindelof's one, and Lindelof's one was not an easy one.

"So, I think Alexis has what I used to call an aggressive muscle injury."

Sanchez has scored just four goals for United in 30 appearances and has found a regular first-team place hard to come under Mourinho.

The British media also reported on Thursday that United have exercised their option to extend goalkeeper David de Gea's contract for another year as talks continue on a long-term deal.

The Spain international's contract was due to finish at the end of the season, which would have allowed him to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club from Jan 1.

Meanwhile, Saints boss Mark Hughes is unconcerned by the speculation surrounding his future and believes his team are on the verge of turning a corner in terms of results, the former United hitman said on Thursday.

Southampton head into today's game against United third from bottom in the table, having won only one league match all season and none at their St Mary's Stadium.

The Times reported on Wednesday that the club's hierarchy have spoken to former Fiorentina boss Paulo Sousa about replacing Hughes, whose side face four of the current top five in the coming weeks.

"I seem to be getting the brunt of the speculation, rightly or wrongly, but I've been in the game a long time. It doesn't faze me... I think that's where experience comes in because it's water off a duck's back. I know how this game works," said the 55-year-old Welshman.

"The reality is if people surmise a manager is under pressure, almost every sports agent... will put forward clients and try and get in contact with the powers that be and say, 'This is the right guy if you're thinking of making a change'."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2018, with the headline 'Misfiring United hamstrung by Sanchez's long spell out'. Print Edition | Subscribe