MANCHESTER UNITED could be without 10 first team players for their Premier League opener against Leicester.
Injuries and lack of match fitness could mean Jose Mourinho’s men kick-start the new season at Old Trafford on Friday fielding a second-string team.
The Red Devils arrived back in Manchester at 1am yesterday morning after capping off a disappointing preseason tour with a boring 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Mourinho has to plan his team for Leicester with question marks over no less than 10 players.
World Cup winner Paul Pogba is certain to miss out having not yet returned to training after enjoying an extended break this summer.
Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young are still recovering after their tournaments with Belgium and England respectively.
Eric Bailly and Ander Herrera both picked up knocks against Bayern, while Antonio Valencia is recovering from a calf strain.
Nemanja Matic has been ruled out after undergoing surgery on an abdominal injury and Sergio Romero is still out with the knee problem which ruined his World Cup.
The selection problem is just another headache for Mourinho, who breathed a sigh of relief after finishing a six game preseason, winning just once.
He said: “Finally, it’s over. Finally, such a difficult preseason is over.
“There is no time to cry. Players are not going to be here on Friday and we have to go with best possible team and with a great mentality.”
Mourinho has been backed by former Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon as a gloomy set of players arrived back home yesterday morning.
It’s been a difficult preseason for the Red Devils, who have struggled with a number of players still away on their post World Cup holidays.
Mourinho didn’t shy away from making his feelings known and has stressed more than once that he would like at least two more signings this summer.
It has been suggested there could be friction between the United boss and vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
However, Kenyon has backed the pair to resolve any difficulties that may be going on at United.
“They have to work it out and they’ll find a way of working it out,” said Kenyon on BBC 5 Live.
“United is bigger than anybody, bigger than any individual and that’s always been the mantra.
“It will get worked out and I would hope Jose is part of that working it out because he is incredibly skilled and he’s demonstrated he can do things.
“He is more than capable, one of the best coaches in the world but have they got it right? No.
“Jose has all the capabilities, he’s done it, but I don’t think he’s in a place where he feels good at the moment.” – WWW.THE SUN.CO.UK/WWW.MIRROR.CO.UK