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29th Sep 2016

Jose Mourinho explains why he may drop Wayne Rooney for Europa League game

He could face another game on the sidelines.

Robert Redmond

Following Manchester United’s dominant victory over Leicester City last weekend, it looked as though Wayne Rooney’s best chance of getting a game was in the Europa League.

Rooney was dropped to the bench for the game against the Premier League champions, and United’s 4-1 win suggested that their captain better get used to being out of the starting XI, in the league at least.

Jose Mourinho has made his indifference to United’s involvement in the Europa League known, but it does present the ideal opportunity to give fringe members of the squad game-time.

And if Rooney is ever going to regain his confidence, a match against Zorya Luhansk seems like a good place to start.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League

However, Mourinho confirmed on Wednesday that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start against the Ukrainian side,  despite earlier suggestions the Swede would be granted a break, and Rooney might not be involved at all.

“Wayne is in the squad, but I have not yet decided whether I will start with him,” the United manager said, before saying he wants to “protect” his player, who has complained of a back issue in training this week.

“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.”

Mourinho also said that he doesn’t want to play Rooney if he’s not fully-fit, because the England captain can’t afford to play poorly again due to his recent underwhelming displays.

“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.”

Former United captain Roy Keane reckons Rooney still has a “huge part to play” for the club over the next few seasons.

We’re not so sure, Roy.

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