This was the last thing Jose Mourinho wanted.
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Both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick hobbled out of Manchester United’s routine 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne in the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday, leaving them as major doubts for Sunday’s EFL Cup final at Wembley against Southampton.
Mkhitaryan scored the only goal of the game early on in their Round of 32 second leg but the Armenian playmaker hobbled off moments later appearing to hold his hamstring.
He was not carried off the pitch but the former Borussia Dortmund star looked far from comfortable as he headed for the tunnel. Carrick also walked off in the second half after suffering a calm problem and both are struggling.
Speaking after the game Mourinho confirmed the duo are unlikely to feature.
“You can be injured leaving your house or injured in the garden. You never know when and why,” Mourinho said. “I say what I think and with three days, with a hamstring and a calf, I always think three days is no time.”
Mourinho later added in his press conference that the duo “have no chance” of being fit for Sunday and said that feeling was “based on my experience, not on my medical knowledge.”
Mkhitaryan, 28, has been a key part of United’s resurgence in recent weeks but it now appears highly unlikely that he will be available for their EFL Cup final at Wembley against Southampton this Sunday.
It’s not like United don’t have other attacking options with Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial in reserve, but there’s no doubting that Mkhitaryan has provided an X-factor in recent weeks with his slick passing and trickery in the final third.
As for Carrick, either Marouane Fellaini or Bastian Schweinsteiger will come into the starting lineup for the final alongside Ander Herrera to add some extra bite to midfield. There’s no doubt United will miss Carrick’s calming influence on the ball in a deep-lying position.
We will wait to see how serious both injuries are but it’s not ideal for Mourinho as his side continue to fight for the EFL Cup, Europa League, FA Cup and, most importantly, for a top four finish in the Premier League.