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26th Dec 2016

José Mourinho explains why Wayne Rooney missed out against Sunderland

Clearing things up.

Tom Victor

Manchester United ruined David Moyes’ return to Old Trafford with a 3-1 Boxing Day victory, thanks to goals from Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Ibrahimović, who set up his teammates’ goals, was flanked by Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard in the starting line-up, with Wayne Rooney missing out on a place in the matchday squad altogether.

There had been no signs of a Rooney injury before the game, but manager José Mourinho has cleared up any confusion over the England forward’s absence.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier LeagueJan Kruger/Getty Images

Mourinho explained that Rooney had felt his thigh in training, saying: “It’s a strange muscle, a big muscle surrounded by others and you can have an injury there but still be able to move well”.

“He was not feeling very confident. It’s not a big day but, in four days, I have my doubts,” added Mourinho, when asked about whether the player might return for United’s next match against Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve.

“I would like to have him, he’s always a player I would like to have but I have my doubts. Let’s see the evolution.”

Rooney has not been as regular a fixture in the team this season as he was in the 2015/16 campaign, but he did start United’s last two victories at Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.

After the visit of Boro, Mourinho’s team travel to London to take on West Ham United on January 2.