Waiting game on Lukaku's fitness

LONDON • Jose Mourinho will wait till the "last moment" before deciding whether Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is fit enough to feature in today's FA Cup final against Chelsea.

Lukaku, the club's top scorer with 26 goals in all competitions, has missed the last three Premier League matches after suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal late last month.

The Belgium international is in a race against time to be fit for the Wembley showdown with his former club, but the United manager opted to crank up the mind games in a bid to keep Chelsea guessing as to his availability.

"We have to wait until the last moment," Mourinho told a news conference yesterday.

"I don't want to lie to you and say he doesn't play and then plays so, with Lukaku, we have to wait."

But he will be able to call on France forward Anthony Martial, who has recovered from the knee injury he suffered in training, resulting in his omission for the final league game at home to Watford.

It would be a significant blow to United's hopes of winning the FA Cup for a record-equalling 13th time if Lukaku is unable to pass his late fitness test.

They have lacked a cutting edge in his absence, scoring only once without the 25-year-old up front.

Today, the Red Devils have a chance to claim their third major trophy under Mourinho, having won the Europa League and League Cup last season.

But the Portuguese chose to play down the significance of the match, saying he will not regard the season as a failure even if they lose today.

"You can analyse the way you want, and I can analyse the way I want," he added.

"I know what my players did. I know the effort they gave. The positive things, the negative things.

"I'm not going to change my opinion on one match, not at all."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline 'Waiting game on Lukaku's fitness'. Print Edition | Subscribe