Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s clash against Middlesbrough, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The Red Devils are set to take on Aitor Karanka’s side at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve, but the English forward is a doubt for the game after he suffered a thigh injury in training on Christmas Day.
Captain out for Middlesbrough visit
When asked if Rooney would be involved for the final game of the calendar year, Mourinho, who was speaking to the club’s official website after Monday’s Boxing Day victory over Sunderland, said “I don’t think so,” but added that “I hope so.”
The Portuguese coach explained that Rooney is “a player I would like to have but I have my doubts.” He then said: “Let’s see the evolution (of the injury).”
The 31-year-old had started three of the Red Devils’ last four matches prior to the Boxing Day triumph over the David Moyes-managed Sunderland, but Mourinho claimed that his recently sustained injury is to “a strange muscle.”
He added that the injured muscle is “surrounded by others and you can have an injury there but still be able to move well,” also citing the fact that Rooney “was not feeling confident.”
Rooney injury not serious
Despite that, Mourinho said his captain’s problem is “not a big deal,” and the manager rejected the idea that Rooney had been deliberately left out over the festive period.
Before his team brushed Sunderland aside on Monday, the ex-Chelsea boss told Sky Sports that “we all agreed that the best thing for him, and for us, was that he didn't play (against Sunderland).”
The United boss, now seven months into his reign, was also critical of the festive schedule, saying “the problem for us is playing on the 31st and then the 2nd.” The Red Devils will travel to West Ham just two days after facing Middlesbrough.
Rooney is United’s lead assist maker in Premier League action this season, having found his teammates to score on five occasions in 14 appearances thus far this campaign.