Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick will not feature in Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton after the pair picked up knocks during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Saint Etienne in the Europa League.
Mkhitaryan netted the game’s only goal after 16 minutes, cleverly flicking home from Juan Mata‘s cross, only to then limp off with a hamstring injury just ten minutes later.
Carrick featured for 62 minutes in France, calmly dictating proceedings after Mkhitaryan’s goal, and didn’t display any signs of discomfort as he came off for Bastian Schweinsteiger.
But Mourinho, speaking after the game, noted that the pair would both miss out on the trip to Wembley, with Carrick picking up a calf injury.
“You can be injured leaving your hose on in your garden – you never know when or why,” he said. “It’s the result of so many matches and it’s a risk but when someone is missing it’s an opportunity for another one to play.
“Carrick and Mkhi are important players and not to have them for the final is complicated, Fellaini and Bastian are players that don’t play very often and they played well. It is a hamstring and calf. Three days is too little time for recovery.”
Let us not kid ourselves: losing Mkhitaryan and Carrick three days prior to a cup final serves as a truly galling set-back. The Armenian has been an effervescent force in recent games, adding a crucial level of impetus and flow to Man United’s attacking frontier, and his influence at Wembley could have been invaluable. Mourinho will, however, have the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to choose from instead.
Carrick’s omission, on the other hand, could be harder to patch up. The 35-year-old’s calming presence at the base of midfield set the tone for United’s last cup final, and supporters will hope that his absence doesn’t prove to be costly against Claude Puel’s men.