Mourinho names 9 kids who could play for Man Utd on Sunday

Date published: Saturday 20th May 2017 1:28

Jose Mourinho does not believe Manchester United’s young players are ready for this weekend’s baptism of fire against Crystal Palace and could struggle as a collective.

United will go through the motions at Old Trafford on Sunday as the Premier League comes to a meek conclusion, just days before their make-or-break Europa League final against Ajax.

Given the Stockholm finale offers both silverware and Champions League qualification, it is little wonder Mourinho will play a weakened side against Palace in a bid to keep his key players fit and fresh.

The Portuguese confirmed Joel Pereira, Kieran O’Hara, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matthew Willock and Zachary Dearnley will be involved on Sunday, so too 16-year-old Angel Gomes.

But when asked if the young players were ready, Mourinho said: “All together? No.

“I think one in the middle of a good structure, a dynamic structure, an experienced structure, I think, yes. I think lots of them together, no.”

Mourinho confirmed 19-year-old defenders Tim Fosu-Mensah, back after a shoulder injury, and Axel Tuanzebe would also play on Sunday – a bold, callow selection borne out of necessity.

“The only positive is to save my players to give them better conditions for Wednesday,” Mourinho said.

“It’s the only positive thing.

“Of course individually for the kids, I think it will be a great experience: Old Trafford, Premier League, Crystal Palace, last match of the season. I think for the kids it will be a big occasion, it will always be good experience for them.”

Asked if they could choke on the big occasion, Mourinho responded: “I think the best debut for a young player is in the middle of an experienced structure, where he can be supported.

“To play so many kids at the same time, honestly, I don’t think it’s good.

“Obviously there is a big difference of quality, strength, experience between them and good players, experienced players like Crystal Palace have.

“I would prefer to give them debuts like I gave to Axel against Reading, to Joel against Wigan – or a big match, but for one player.

“With so many at the same time, I think they really need my support, (reserves manager) Nicky Butt’s support (and) supporters to understand the difficult job they have, because it will not be an easy one for them.”


Mourinho on Manchester United side

It will not just be kids playing against Palace as Mourinho confirmed Paul Pogba will start after missing the past two matches following the death of his father.

Marouane Fellaini is having a hamstring injury assessed, while Chris Smalling is set to be fit for Wednesday’s final despite a “small problem” keeping him out against Palace.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young are definitely out of both matches, with Mourinho bemoaning United’s injury situation when previewing the Ajax clash.

The Portuguese also spoke of the “unbelievable” fixture schedule and took aim at those that “like to lie” about United’s situation.

The frantic schedule and injuries have seen Mourinho rotate in recent league games, with captain Wayne Rooney – strongly linked with a summer Old Trafford exit – likely to be among those rested on Sunday.

“I will bring three or four of the first-team players to play one half each one, where I can give a little bit of experience to the team but at the same time save them all for Wednesday,” Mourinho said.

“I don’t know (whether) Wayne (will play) or not. He played 90 minutes in the last match, so probably not.”

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