UEFA Europa League

BRUGGE, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrates scoring his hat trick goal with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League qualifying round play off 2nd leg match between Club Brugge and Manchester United held at Jan Breydel Stadium on August 26, 2015 in Brugge, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Rooney, Shaw left out of Man United’s Europa League squad

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Wayne Rooney returned to training with Manchester United on Tuesday but he will not feature in their UEFA Europa League game in St. Etienne on Thursday.

[ PHOTOS: Shaw under investigation

Rooney, 31, has missed United’s last four games through a muscle injury and then requiring dental surgery.

United’s all-time leading goalscorer hasn’t played for the Red Devils since Feb. 1 in a Premier League clash with Hull City and remains a doubt for their EFL Cup final on Sunday against Southampton at Wembley Stadium.

The England and United striker continues to be linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but he seems pretty happy to at least be back on the training pitch after three weeks on the sidelines.

Other notable absentees from the 20-man squad named by Jose Mourinho include left back Luke Shaw, while full back Matteo Darmian isn’t included either. In Shaw’s case it appears that Mourinho still doesn’t believe in the youngsters defensive abilities as the England international continues to battle through after overcoming a horrendous double-fracture in his leg last season.

With United leading 3-0 from the first leg of their Round of 32 tie against the Ligue 1 club, Mourinho will be hoping for a routine win against Saint-Etienne and no new injury worries ahead of their cup final against Southampton on Sunday.

Below is the squad in full for the trip to France as United are still in with a chance of winning three cup competitions as well as in the top four hunt in the PL after a 16-game unbeaten run.


Manchester United squad

David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Kieran O’Hara; Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ashley Young, Timothy Fosu-Mensah; Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Mata; Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford.

Slumping Spurs “have to be clever” to stop rot

GENT, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 16:  Jeremy Perbet of KAA Gent celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between KAA Gent and Tottenham Hotspur at Ghelamco Arena on February 16, 2017 in Gent, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Spurs have hit a thorny patch of form at a congested time in their schedule.

After a drowsy display against Liverpool last weekend, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men couldn’t find the back of the net in Belgium against Gent in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

[ MORE: FA Cup predictions ]

The 1-0 loss isn’t crushing, but leaves little room for error in London on Thursday.

Still, Pochettino says that Gent’s edge is slim. From TottenhamHotspur.com:

“When you lose it’s always a bad feeling but the tie is open, it’s a minimal advantage for Gent and we need to play at Wembley next Thursday and try to win the game,” said Mauricio.

“We are confident we can turn it around, of course. We need to recover our best feeling as soon as possible. It always happens, ups and downs, but we have to be clever and try to stop that.”

The next chance to do just that is Sunday against Fulham. A London Derby against a lower league side could be the perfect prescription for Pochettino, though we suspect the Cottagers will be ready.

Comparing yourself to Indiana Jones is daring to Zlatan

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Europa  League Round of 32 first leg match between Manchester United and AS Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford on February 16, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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But does he hate snakes?

UEFA Europa League hat trick hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic compared himself to Indiana Jones following Thursday’s 3-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

[ WATCH: Costa’s aggressive dance moves ]

So while manager Jose Mourinho was not happy with his side’s performance against Saint-Etienne, clearly Ibrahimovic was feeling a bit more jovial. From Sky Sports:

“Every trophy for me is incredible, everywhere I came I won so if I can win something here I will be super happy,” he said.

“People that know me know that I play in many clubs and I try to do my best. Wherever I went I won – so I am like Indiana Jones.”

I also like to imagine that Ibrahimovic has a father or grandfather who is the Scandinavian equivalent of Sean Connery.

Never change, Zlatan.

LIVE – Europa League begins long, fun day; Spurs, Man Utd in action

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11:  Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United and Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham Hotspur compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on December 11, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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There’s a choose-your-own-adventure triple header of UEFA Europa League fun on tap for Thursday, beginning with the only 11 a.m. EDT kickoff between Krasnodar and Fenerbahce.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Thursday’s Europa League action ]

The Premier League’s contestants are divided between 1 and 3:05 p.m. EDT matches, with Spurs in Belgium to face KAA Gent at 1 p.m. and Manchester United hosting Saint-Etienne just over two hours later.

Full schedule of Thursday’s first legs

11 a.m. EDT
Krasnodar vs. Fenerbahce

1 p.m. EDT
Alkmaar vs. Lyon
Astra Giurgiu vs. Genk
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Fiorentina
Rostov vs. Sparta Prague
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Copenhagen
Celta Vigo vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Gent vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos vs. Osmanlispor

3:05 p.m. EDT
Manchester United vs. Saint-Etienne
Anderlecht vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Villarreal vs. Roma
PAOK vs. Schalke
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Besiktas
Athletic Bilbao vs. Apoel Nicosia
Legia Warsaw vs. Ajax

UEFA Europa League preview: Mourinho eyes more hardware, Spurs to Belgium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United celebrates his team's 2-0 win after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on February 11, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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The battle for Pogba family bragging rights just so happens to be Jose Mourinho’s next step in a quest for lots of laurels at Manchester United.

Sure Mourinho won the Charity Shield to start the season, but the Man Utd boss is within a win of the EFL Cup, and in the final 16 of both the FA Cup and Europa League competitions.

Yeah he’s won them all before, but Mourinho would love clinching an automatic Champions League berth for next size by winning the Europa League.

[ MORE: Bayern 5-1 Arsenal | 3 things ]

The next step to that is Saint-Etienne, who visits Old Trafford on Thursday. The Ligue 1 side is more than a story line involving Florentin Pogba going up against little brother Paul Pogba of the Red Devils; You’ll remember Jordan Veretout and Henri Saivet from brief Premier League stints.

But, yes, the focus is on the Pogba family, including the matriarch according to Mourinho:

“I think it’s a nice destiny. I think only Mum Pogba is in a little bit of trouble, which is normal. It’s difficult for the lady to choose. It’s not difficult, it’s impossible for her to choose. I know from Paul that the mum wants a draw but next week one son will be happy and another one will be sad.”

Still, United will be expected to advance to the next round, as will fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs are coming off a disappointing performance at Liverpool last weekend, and now visit Belgium for a match-up with KAA Gent. Captained by Nana Asare and coached by Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent will hope to keep Spurs off the scoreboard at home before a trip to London.

Other highlights on the schedule include Roma’s trip to Villarreal and Fiorentina’s visit to USMNT wideman Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Full schedule of Thursday’s first legs

11 a.m. EDT
Krasnodar vs. Fenerbahce

1 p.m. EDT
Alkmaar vs. Lyon
Astra Giurgiu vs. Genk
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Fiorentina
Rostov vs. Sparta Prague
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Copenhagen
Celta Vigo vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Gent vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos vs. Osmanlispor

3:05 p.m. EDT
Manchester United vs. Saint-Etienne
Anderlecht vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Villarreal vs. Roma
PAOK vs. Schalke
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Besiktas
Athletic Bilbao vs. Apoel Nicosia
Legia Warsaw vs. Ajax