Louis van Gaal claims a number of his number of his Manchester United players are in danger of suffering from burn-out as they prepare to begin their FA Cup campaign against Sheffield United.
United have played 30 games so far this season, the joint most of any Premier League side along with Liverpool and Manchester City.
Such a packed fixture schedule has taken its toll on the players, with six currently out injured – only three sides can currently claim more players on the sidelines.
Van Gaal says that while long-term absentees Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are recovering well, a number of his players are “in the red zone” due to overplaying.
“Phil Jones is injured and a lot of players are in the red zone,” Van Gaal said ahead of United’s FA Cup third-round clash against Sheffield United.
“Jesse Lingard has trained all week and is ready,” he added.
Asked on Ashley Young, Van Gaal replied: “He is not injured, he is overloaded and in the red zone. More players are in the red zone and we have to decide if they can play against Sheffield United or not.”
Shaw and Valencia have been ruled out for most of – if not all – season, while Rojo has missed much of the campaign with separate thigh and shoulder injuries. Van Gaal says that all three are doing well in their respective recoveries.
“All three are going very well,” said the Dutchman. “Shaw and Valencia also had a holiday break and they have come back very brightly and they have the spirit to continue so that’s very good.
“Rojo was here and shall also have a break at the end of January when it is possible for him. But it is going very well.”
Van Gaal on FA Cup drought
Van Gaal admits it’s no surprise to see United go 10 years since their last FA Cup trophy success, and expects Sheffield United to raise their game against his side.
“We saw that last year when we played Yeovil and Cambridge,” said Van Gaal.
“Every match is difficult to win, no matter what level you have to compete with.
“That’s why Manchester United did not win it for a long time, I think. I cannot judge the way they have lost in the last few years, but last year we lost against Arsenal, and they were the winners.”