LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says he has ample options in his Manchester United squad to cope without injured midfielder Paul Pogba as Wayne Rooney prepares to return to Old Trafford.
Pogba is widely expected to be out of action for between a month and six weeks after damaging his hamstring just 18 minutes into Tuesday s 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel.
That would force him to miss France s World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus in early October, which they need to win to guarantee a place at the finals in Russia.
But Mourinho s refusal to put a timescale on the midfielder s absence may yet give national team coach Didier Deschamps reason for hope.
Marouane Fellaini, who replaced Pogba as a substitute against Basel, is likely to step into the starting line-up for Sunday s Premier League home match against Everton, with Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick also in contention.
Mourinho would not elaborate on suggestions that Pogba had aggravated a long-term hamstring problem, or claims that the midfielder has been working with a personal trainer against club advice.
The United manager would only say he expects Pogba, the club s 89 million ($121 million, 101 million euros) record signing, to be out for “a few matches”.
“I just know that it s a muscular injury and he s out for the weekend match,” said Mourinho. “That s the only one I m thinking about. I don t think further than that. So for me, it s simple and objective that he s not playing this weekend.
“I don t know if it s the same one. I just know it s a hamstring.”