Romelu Lukaku is facing a race against time to be fit for the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 19.
Lukaku, 24, has been out with an ankle injury he suffered in the 2-1 win against Arsenal on April 29 and Jose Mourinho had previously been hopeful that United’s leading goalscorer would make the showpiece game against Chelsea.
Speaking ahead of United’s final game of the Premier League season against Watford on Sunday, Mourinho revealed the latest on Lukaku.
“We hope he can play in the final. He is in Belgium, having his treatment with communication between the doctors in Belgium and our medical department,” Mourinho said. “We are just waiting to see if it’s possible for him to be involved in the final. If not starting, then at least on the bench.”
So, it appears Lukaku’s injury is a little more serious than Mourinho and United first feared as the powerful forward has another week to get himself ready. The clock is ticking.
If United lose Lukaku for the final, it’s a huge blow. Their past two games (a 1-0 defeat at Brighton last Friday and a 0-0 draw at West Ham on Thursday) without Lukaku proved that. Both Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez have played as the central striker in Lukaku’s absence but have struggled massively.
Lukaku has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season, his first as a United player, but aside from his goals his link up play has improved and he has bullied defenders all season long.
Rashford and Anthony Martial will both play against Watford on Sunday, according to Mourinho, and that seems like a straight audition for who starts in the FA Cup final against the former club of both Mourinho and Lukaku.
With a second-place finish secured in the Premier League, Mourinho will badly want to finish the season with a trophy to go along with the three he won in his debut season at United.
Not having Lukaku available from the start would put a huge dent in United’s hopes of FA Cup success and, at least right now, it hands Chelsea a big advantage. Lukaku is that important to the way United play that his absence probably makes Chelsea slight favorites to win the FA Cup.