Manchester United have confirmed that star Juan Mata has undergone surgery because of a groin injury. The Spaniard is the latest name on the injury list for the Red Devils after defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both of whom sustained injuries whilst away on international duty. Record signing Paul Pogba has also failed to recover from his hamstring injury. Ander Herrera remains suspended and so does Ibrahimovic, who completes his three-match ban with this game.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 31, 2017
The news comes as a massive blow for United who have a crucial month coming up in their quest for Europe. Mata has been Mourinho’s trusted figure in midfield, especially with the others having a start-stop season. The Spaniard has contributed for his side whenever called upon and his goals have been critical. Mata is United’s second-highest goalscorer by a margin behind the big Swede.
Juan Mata now has 125 senior career goals for club & country:
Man Utd (36)
Goalscoring midfielder. ⚽ pic.twitter.com/ypvlVfzwpv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 16, 2017
Mourinho can only hope his bunch of available players can do the job for his side in such times of crisis. The focus will now lie on Henrikh Mkhitaryan to take charge of proceedings in attacking midfield. The Armenian has shown glimpses of what he can offer and his form would be a key for the Reds. Jesse Lingard is another player who could seize the opportunity and stake his claim for his future at the club. The winger can add much needed pace to the side alongside Martial. The Frenchman has had a disturbed season so far and his fitness will be a sheer necessity.
Depleted midfield and Mata injury offer Lingard a big chance to step up. Proved he's an asset in a a central attacking role. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) March 31, 2017
Mata himself would be gutted with the injury. The Spaniard has rarely missed games for long spells on the treatment table since his arrival at the club. The fact that he could be out for the season could prove decisive in the latter stages of the season. United play NINE games in April and they cannot afford to have any more players on the sidelines.
If there is one redeming feature of this hell that is life then surely it is Juan Mata. His injury is a blow all humankind.
— Sam Homewood (@SamHomewood) March 31, 2017
Wayne Rooney’s return from injury is a rare piece of positive news for United on the injury front. The skipper is in contention for a place in the side against West Brom on Saturday after the manager confirmed his availability.
“The important players are the ones that are ready to play, and the ones I trust, and the ones who are going to give everything tomorrow to try to keep us in the fight for the top four,” he added.
It would be interesting to see how Mourinho shapes his team at Old Trafford to kick-start a thrilling month of football for Manchester United. April could well be the most significant month for the Portuguese manager since his appointment.