LONDON • Jose Mourinho has insisted that Manchester United's fringe players could still have a future at the club, even though many of them will not be in contention when his side return to Premier League duty at Leicester today.
The surprise 2-1 League Cup quarter-final defeat by Championship club Bristol City means United will not retain the trophy that Mourinho won last season, his first as manager at Old Trafford.
But the United manager is not about to make any rash decision.
"I don't make decisions based on only one game or one feeling or one night, not at all," he told a press conference yesterday.
"I could be critical with my players but they did enough to win, they lost when they were the only team people believed could win. So we move on and we move on quickly because we have another match."
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Mourinho will now focus on the more urgent matter of trying to cut into Manchester City's 11-point lead at the top of the table.
"We are in a race that only ends for us in May against Watford at Old Trafford," added the Portuguese, reiterating that he has not given up on the title race.
"We can win every match."
United are looking for a third consecutive league win, but will face a Leicester side who have won four of their last five league games to climb to eighth.
Paul Pogba, who returned at Bristol following a three-match suspension, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who started his first game of the season and scored in the upset, are likely to be involved at Leicester although Mourinho suggested he would be making numerous changes.
"The reality is that the ones that were on the pitch were the ones that were not in the last (league) match and are the ones that are not going to be in the next match," he had said after the Ashton Gate loss.
Manchester United have 41 points after 18 Premier League games - their best start to a season since Alex Ferguson's final season (2012-13) in charge of the Red Devils.
With the possible additional exceptions of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, it appears unlikely that any of the midweek starters will retain their starting positions today.
For players such as Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian, who have struggled to convince Mourinho that they are worthy of regular first-team football, the Bristol defeat could prove especially damaging if not definitive.
And for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose future has been the subject of much speculation amid reports that Mourinho will listen to offers for the Armenian when the January transfer window opens, his 20-minute substitute cameo against the Championship side was hardly encouraging.
Having taken City to penalties before losing their League Cup quarter-final, Foxes defender Christian Fuchs said the former Premier League champions, revitalised under new manager Claude Puel, will enter the weekend with confidence.
"It gives us a good feeling with the way we played," he said. "We didn't win but we kept possession, it felt good and it gives us confidence back. We're happy with the performance. The feeling of disappointment we have now, we can be proud and go into the United game with a good feeling."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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