(Reuters) - Manchester United’s World Cup participants should consider cutting their holidays short to help the depleted team in the opening stages of the upcoming Premier League season, manager Jose Mourinho said.
Several players from United’s first-choice starting line-up, including Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard, are resting after the World Cup and could miss the opening league fixture against Leicester City in less than two weeks’ time.
England defender Phil Jones and forward Marcus Rashford are expected to shorten their vacations to help a struggling United squad prepare for the start of the season. Mourinho has suggested that others should do the same.
“I hope that the boys on deserved holidays take care of themselves a bit and that somebody wants to do what Rashford and Phil Jones decided to do, which is to be back a bit earlier to try to help the team because for the beginning of the season we are going to be in trouble,” Mourinho told reporters on Sunday.
To add to United’s woes, midfielder Nemanja Matic is the most recent to pick up an injury in pre-season. Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are also sidelined.
United slumped to a 4-1 defeat by league rivals Liverpool in the pre-season International Champions Cup on Sunday and will be looking to avoid another dismal result when they take on Champions League holders Real Madrid on Wednesday.
The Old Trafford outfit play German champions Bayern Munich in their final pre-season friendly on Aug. 5 before hosting Leicester in the opening league match on Aug. 10.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich