Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has cursed the club's "ridiculous" luck after confirming he has 13 players injured for the trip to FC Midtjylland in their UEFA Europa League last-32 match on Thursday.
Joe Mewis of the Mirror quoted the United boss explaining the reasons behind his squad selection and the recent influx of injuries.
“Our policy was not to have a big squad as we wanted to try youngsters in our team," said Van Gaal. "Normally we don’t have 13 injured players. It’s ridiculous when you analyse it - they’re all contact injuries. With that policy, once or twice you have to back up the team with youngsters but injuries have happened every week this season."
Rooney will be missing for at least several weeks with a knee problem, and the manager has backed Anthony Martial to successfully deputise for the club skipper. Van Gaal also mentioned the development of Will Keane, who has impressed in the reserves, per Mewis:
We have in Martial another striker, he has played several matches in this role and wants to play in it.
I knew in advance that Rooney would play a lot of matches, then I have called Will Keane back and he has done very well in the second team. Sometimes you have to show it at the higher level and maybe he’ll get the chance to show it - you never know.
Van Gaal also confirmed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who has featured heavily for United since Christmas, is out of the squad because of illness, per Mewis. He added Darmian suffered a dislocated shoulder against Sunderland, while Fellaini is missing with a muscle problem.
Despite his disappointment with the injury crisis, LvG proclaimed his faith in his youth contingent and believes they are ready for the first-team, per the club's official Twitter feed:
Manchester United @ManUtd
Louis van Gaal reveals he's been impressed with #mufc's young players so far this season... https://t.co/C5D2gDH6yM2016-2-17 17:55:02
The United coach also spoke about his team's opposition for Thursday's contest and highlighted Midtjylland's threat in the air, as reported by Mewis:
We don’t have tall players so we know that in advance. Midtjylland are specialised at set-plays. They have scored 48 goals from them, so we will try to organise for that but it’s difficult.
We hope we can do that but we mustn’t give too many corners or free-kicks away. The early one against Sunderland was not a free-kick. My compatriot van Aanholt went down for nothing and you have to cope with that.
United were sluggish against Sunderland after a short run of good form and were duly punished by an inferior team at the Stadium of Light.
On paper, the Danish Superliga champions do not have the weaponry to cope with United at their best, but Van Gaal's team have blown hot or cold for most of his 18-month tenure in the north-west, making them completely unpredictable and inconsistent.
The Europa League offers United the chance of silverware this term and gives Van Gaal the opportunity to end the season on a high after a campaign of mixed fortunes and obvious disappointments.