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Jose Mourinho has confirmed he will hand several youngsters their Manchester United debuts against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday, while Paul Pogba will return after his father’s death.
Per BBC Sport’s Simon Stone, Mourinho said the likes of Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Angel Gomes, Axel Tuanzebe, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara would all feature along with the Frenchman:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
JM: “@paulpogba is fine. Strong guy. Strong mentality. He needs to play on Sunday.”
5/19/2017, 11:31:33 AM
Mourinho is trying to rest as many first-team players as he can ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final clash with Ajax.
Of those youngsters, only Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah, McTominay and Pereira have featured for United’s senior team, the latter two for a combined total of just 16 minutes.
Per The Mirror‘s Jack Rathborn, Mourinho added: “I will bring three or four of the first teamers to play one half each on Sunday. The only positive is to save my players and give them the best possible conditions to be ready for Wednesday.”
The Special One conceded he was not introducing them to the first team in ideal circumstances, though, per Rathborn: “I prefer to hand debuts to only one young player at a time, that helps them as they come into a strong structure. We have tried to bring the guys who are more adapted to playing at this level at the moment.”
Mourinho once again took the opportunity to criticise the scheduling the Red Devils have had to deal with this season, with the team balancing duties in four competitions.
Marca‘s Chris Winterburn relayed his comments:
The manager also turned his attention to Wednesday’s final, and confirmed his injured players will also be in attendance, per ESPN’s Rob Dawson:
He had praise for opponents Ajax, who have an average squad age of just 22 years old:
According to Rathborn, on counterpart Peter Bosz, he added: “I don’t know him too well, when I see Ajax play I think he has done fantastic work. I don’t like to speak about colleagues. When I see Ajax play I see the results of a manager’s work.”
Mourinho will be pitting his wits against the Dutchman on Wednesday in a match that will virtually make or break his first season at Old Trafford.
Winning the outstanding trophy will also qualify United for the UEFA Champions League, while losing will make a sixth-placed finish and only the League Cup the legacy from his first year in charge.
With Sunday’s Premier League match largely irrelevant to both United and Palace it’s understandable Mourinho will field a weakened side, while the number of young players set to feature is a by-product of the injuries the Red Devils are dealing with, as Mourinho is even having to rest several squad players for the Europa Leeague.