Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Manchester United’s starting XI against Valencia will be made up of senior players, despite the presence of two Academy prospects in the squad.
The boss briefed the media on Tuesday evening after the club’s delegation touched down on Spain’s east coast, and the first question focused on whether James Garner or Mason Greenwood would begin the Reds’ final clash of the Champions League group stage.
Mourinho responded: “The kids won’t start the match. Garner will be on the bench, and Mason is the protection player, in case we have any injuries.”
The Portuguese had already revealed that Paul Pogba would start the Valencia match, when speaking after Saturday’s 4-1 win over Fulham at Old Trafford. In his pre-match press conference at the Mestalla, he explained that other senior members of his squad would deservedly get the same opportunity.
“We have players that need to play; we have players that deserve to play so, in spite of leaving a few players in Manchester, we are going to play with a team only with players from the first team,” clarified Mourinho.
Asked what he was hoping to see from Pogba’s performance, the manager continued: “I’m looking for him to play well, and to have a good impact in the game and in the team.
”[It will be] a team with many players that don’t have many miles in their legs, a team with some players that are not playing a lot. So I hope that people like Paul and a couple of others that are normally in the team, who have the number of miles that players need to be at that top level, I hope that they can have a good impact on the team.“
Earlier in the day, Valencia manager Marcelino admitted that some of his leading players would not feature, with the club’s place in the Europa League’s knockout stages already assured, irrespective of results on matchday six.
Former Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista suffered a hamstring strain in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sevilla at the Mestalla, while Jeison Murillo and Kevin Gameiro are already managing complaints. Spanish international full-back Jose Gaya is suspended.