By Tony Nwanne
José Mourinho has admitted he has reservations about putting Wayne Rooney into what he describes as a difficult situation, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start Thursday’s Europa League tie against Zorya Luhansk.
A home game against little-known Ukrainian opponents seemed the ideal opportunity to offer the Manchester United captain a route back into the first team after being dropped against Leicester on Saturday, and Rooney has plenty of experience of more demanding occasions. Yet the ease with which United dismantled the defending champions has complicated what initially appeared a straightforward process and Mourinho is probably right in surmising that Rooney would be under more pressure than usual to perform.
“Wayne is in the squad, but I have not yet decided whether I will start with him,” Mourinho said. “He has had a back problem, so has not managed to train at full intensity all week. He is recovered now, but only just returning to training with the rest of the players. At the start of the week I was completely convinced he would play the whole game, but now I am not so sure.
“I am here to protect him, not to put him into difficult situations. With the situation now created around him he really cannot afford to have a performance that is not really good. I have to analyse if the best thing for him is to start the game. If he is not totally ready for it and I will discuss it with the player and the medical staff, he might start on the bench.”