Manchester United have been dealt a blow in pursuit of the Champions League qualification after Jose Mourinho claimed Juan Mata will not return from injury before the end of the season.
The Spanish midfielder got injured mid-March and underwent a groin surgery, he was expected to be back before the season ends to play some parts in United’s challenge for a top four finish in the Premier League and to win the Europa League but United will now have to continue the fight without the creative midfielder.
Speaking after United’s draw with Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-final , Mourinho said “End of May”, when asked about the possible return date for Mata, which translates to the Europa League final on May 24- should Man United get there- will come too soon for him.
Mata has been influential for United in attack this season and his absence at this time of the season will obviously be felt by United who are already struggling to find the cutting edge in the final third.
The former Chelsea man has scored 10 goals in all competitions and he is only behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic on United’s scoring chart.
In the light of that Mourinho will have to drag any of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard to fill the void.
Mourinho also revealed both Phil Jones will not be available for another one month, leaving him Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo available for selection in the centre of defence.
‘There is nothing I can do,’ Mourinho said. ‘They have to go until the limits. There is no other choice. We don’t have any other central defenders. They have to go. There is no other chance
“We have to fight for every game, so it’s amazing mentality by Eric and by Marcos, but we have to go.”