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(Reuters) - Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan understands that competition for places kept him out of manager Jose Mourinho's plans but is determined to show he deserves a first-team spot.
The Armenian import from Borussia Dortmund started in the Community Shield season curtain-raiser against Leicester City but was dropped after a four-game Premier League run ended with a poor display in a 2-1 loss to Manchester City on Sept. 10.
"I was thinking that I would be here as a starting lineup player but... I saw that there were 25 players fighting for their place and I understood that it wasn't going to be easy," Mkhitaryan told Sky Sports.
"There was no bad relation with him (Mourinho). It was always good but the problem wasn't him, it was me."
United's new Portuguese boss gave Mkhitaryan a league start in the 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United on Nov. 27 after a two-month gap and three days later he impressed in a 4-1 League Cup quarter-final win against the same team with two assists.
"Now I understand why I have got my chance and I will keep it... because it is very important for me to play, to be a part of Manchester United," the 27-year-old midfielder added.
"I had a bad game against Manchester City but that is in the past... I have done a great job to get my chance back..."
"The manager has a lot of choice, he has five or six players in that position but I know that playing now, I know what I have done bad in the past and what good I can do in the future."
United, sixth in the Premier League, visit Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League group stage on Thursday needing at least a draw to guarantee a place in the last 32.
They host the Premier League's fifth-placed side Tottenham Hotspur, who they trail by six points, on Sunday.
Reporting by Debanjan Bose in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris