Mourinho pays tribute to centre-back duo

When Chris Smalling injured Phil Jones on England duty during the recent international break, Manchester United were already short of centre-backs entering a busy period of the season.

Smalling then picked up an injury in a separate incident, leading to the Red Devils being without two key defenders during a packed fixture list.

Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly have both impressed throughout the 2016-17 campaign, although it would be fair to assume that each could do with a rest in the month of April as the club looks to compete in both the Premier League and Europa League.

Man United boss Jose Mourinho, however, has conceded that Rojo and Bailly will be forced to continue at centre-back for this weekend’s key Premier League clash with Chelsea as he simply does not have any other options.

Mourinho told Man United’s official website:

“There is nothing I can do [about the current defensive situation]. They [Bailly and Rojo] 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.

“If we arrived in a situation in the Premier League, I hope not, where mathematically the top four is not possible, then it’s an easy decision. Rest them and go with them in the Europa League – if we are still in the competition.

“But, in this moment, we are in this situation where we have two matches in hand and if we win both matches, we are in the top four. We have to fight for every game, so it’s amazing mentality by Eric and by Marcos, but we have to go.”

Man United will enter Sunday’s clash with Chelsea off the back of a 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday night, where Bailly and Rojo both played the full 90 minutes.