Man Utd Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Middlesbrough

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In a stop-start Premier League campaign Manchester United head
to the Riverside on Sunday to face Middlesbrough in what is the
second of just two league fixtures in a seven-week period
between mid-February and the beginning of April.

The short turnaround from their latest Europa League
qualification has naturally frustrated Jose Mourinho, but the
Red Devils have a job to do against a Boro side who will be
looking to make a statement following the sacking of boss
Aitor Karanka.

With an international break to come before United then face
three league games in eight days, a win to sign off with would
be just the tonic for a United side running to stand still at
the moment in the Premier League.

MAN UTD INJURIES

Paul Pogba’s early withdrawal with a hamstring injury was the
biggest news to come out of Thursday’s win over
Rostov and, just as Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s similar strain
against Saint-Etienne ruled him out of the EFL Cup final which
followed, there is no hope of the Frenchman returning in time
to face Boro on Sunday.

Mourinho’s early diagnosis suggested a lay-off of around three
weeks, which would see Pogba miss at least three league games
in total.

Elsewhere, Daley Blind’s knock to the head at Old Trafford
makes him a doubt to make the trip north, but Anthony Martial
could come back into contention after returning to training on
Wednesday.

Wayne Rooney’s knee problem, sustained in a training-ground
collision with Phil Jones, is likely to keep him out for
another game, with his exclusion from Gareth Southgate’s
England squad evidence of the lack of optimism for a quick
return.

Marcos Rojo is chief among those who could be due a rest after
Mourinho stated the Portuguese had hit a physical wall late in
the game against Rostov following the heavy recent workload.

HD Paul Pogba Manchester United

MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS

Since they last stepped out for a Premier League fixture
against Bournemouth, United have been hit with a double blow on
the disciplinary front. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s elbow on Tyrone
Mings against the Cherries ruled him out of domestic duty for
three matches, while Ander Herrera’s first-half dismissal in
the FA Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea sits him out for two
games.

Both miss the trip to Middlesbrough as a result, and the pair
will again be unavailable when West Brom come to Old Trafford
on April 1.

Boro are in the luxurious position of having no current
suspension worries.

MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP

There are plenty of question marks for Mourinho to consider
ahead of Sunday’s game, with this arguably being his most
compromised team selection as Manchester United manager.

The suspensions of Ibrahimovic and Herrera are one thing, but
the loss of Pogba and Rooney and doubt over Blind add to his
woes. Then there are the worries over Martial’s fitness and
fears for fatigue to Rojo in particular. Add in a potential
change of system again, and United could be all-change for
Sunday.

After three games matching up a back three against similar
shapes, Mourinho may well decide to revert back to a 4-2-3-1
for Boro, with the midfield almost picking itself due to the
absences of Herrera and Pogba. He could decide to forego
Marouane Fellaini and play with Michael Carrick behind an
attacking midfield quartet, but that may be seen as a risky
move away from home.

If Rojo and Blind miss out at the back, Matteo Darmian is
likely to be recalled ahead of Luke Shaw, while there has to be
a change up front due to Ibrahimovic’s absence. His spot may
well go again to Marcus Rashford, with Martial likely to start
on the left if fully fit. The only other real quandary relates
to the potential inclusion of Jesse Lingard ahead of one of
Juan Mata or Mkhitaryan.

Possible Man Utd XI

MIDDLESBROUGH TEAM NEWS

Middlesbrough’s biggest change by far ahead of Sunday’s game
comes in the manager’s office as Steve Agnew takes temporary
charge following the midweek sacking of Karanka. Mourinho’s
former Real Madrid No.2 had been in charge for three-and-a-half
years, taking the club from the verge of relegation to League
One to the Premier League but ultimately paid the price for a
lack of bite in the final third this term.

Agnew will be hoping to have Calum Chambers, Daniel Ayala,
George Friend, Rudy Gestede and Bernardo all available after
recent knocks, although Gestede has seen his dismal record at
Premier League level extend to only one win in 41 games for
three different clubs.

Boro’s record of just nine shots per game in the Premier League
this season has them on course to record the lowest strike rate
in over a decade, but with talents such as Alvaro Negredo and
the lightning quick Adama Traore United will need to be on
their toes if Agnew releases the shackles on his players for
his first game in charge.

Alvaro Negredo Middlesbrough Everton Premier League

BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS

  • Middlesbrough are winless in their last 12 meetings with
    Man Utd in all competitions (D5 L7), although they did
    progress via penalties in their League Cup clash in October
    2015.

  • The Red Devils have scored in each of their last 14 away
    league games against Middlesbrough; their longest active
    streak against a single opponent.

  • Manchester United’s next win will be their 600th in the
    Premier League, becoming the first side to reach that
    landmark.

  • Middlesbrough’s next loss in the Premier League will be
    their 1000th defeat in the English top-flight and they
    would become the 14th team to do so.

  • This game will see the team who averages the fewest shots
    on target (Middlesbrough – 2.4 per game) face the team who
    attempts the most per game (Manchester United – 6.3 per
    game).

  • Manchester United are currently on the longest unbeaten run
    in the Premier League (17 games), while opponents
    Middlesbrough are on the longest current winless run in the
    competition (10 games).

TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME

The Riverside Stadium showdown kicks off at 12:00 (GMT) on
Sunday, with TV coverage in the UK getting underway at 11:00
(GMT) on BT Sport 1.

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