Wayne Rooney may have no Old Trafford send-off to his 13-year Manchester United career after José Mourinho stated the captain will probably not feature in Sunday’s final home game against Crystal Palace.
Rooney’s future at the club is in doubt as the 31-year-old may depart in the summer. If so United’s record goal-scorer and longest serving player, having joined in August 2004, would end a stellar period at the club with no chance of saying goodbye to the home crowd.
Asked if the 31-year-old Rooney will play on Sunday, Mourinho said: “I will bring three or four of the first-team players, to play one half each one. I can give a little bit of experience to the team but, at the same time, save them all for Wednesday. I don’t know about Wayne or not – he played 90 minutes in the last match, so probably not.”
Paul Pogba will play as he needs match-time before Wednesday night’s Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, after being absent from the club due to his father’s death.
“Paul Pogba is fine – strong guy, strong mentality,” the manager said on Friday. “He’s learning how to live after his father passed away, but he is strong. He knows that he needs to play on Sunday because he doesn’t play or train for a long time and he needs these minutes on the pitch, so he plays against Palace.
“[Chris] Smalling has a problem but a small problem that I think no problem at all for next week. A problem for the weekend but not for the final. Marouane [Fellaini, hamstring] is the question mark, we wait for today’s scans. We decided not to do it yesterday. Again his feelings are not bad but let’s wait. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, he plays Sunday and if the reaction is good and if he manages the game without problems he’s a new option for us for the final.”
The manager named the young footballers who will face Palace. “You will have two goalkeepers, Joel [Perreira] and [Kieran] O’Hara, we will have [Demetri] Mitchell, [Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, Matthew Willock, [Angel] Gomes, Zachary [Dearnley], I think that’s it, plus Fosu-Mensah, Axel [Tuanzabe], so lots of them,” he said.
On Ajax’s progress to the final, Mourinho said: ”I’m not surprised at all. Why are you [questioner] surprised? I really don’t know. I don’t think the age of the players is important, the quality is.”
He does, though, think Ajax should not have dropped out of the Champions League into the Europa League. “They are a Champions League team, they come from the Champions League, I always disagree with it. I think a team shouldn’t play two Europe competitions in the same season, they should go home.
“They shouldn’t have the opportunity to play the Europa League – the Europa League is for teams who go into the Europa League like us.”