Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Romelu Lukaku will be fit enough to feature in Saturday’s crunch fixture against rivals Liverpool in Friday’s press conference at Carrington.
The trip west to Merseyside sees United take on old foes in the lunchtime game, with a 12:30pm BST kick-off the start point for what should be a pulsating contest.
Despite the promise that Lukaku will feature, club captain Michael Carrick has been ruled out with injury.
The veteran has featured just once this term, in September’s Carabao Cup triumph over Burton Albion.
Fellow midfielders Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini remain sidelined, with the latter ruled out during the international break, sustaining his injury for Belgium, and was picked by Roberto Martinez in spite of his niggling knock and having already qualified for next year’s World Cup.
Those injuries all but assure that a three man backline system will be operated, which worked well in last month’s 4-1 triumph in Moscow against CSKA.
Boss Mourinho did joke, however, that he would be deploying one defender and nine strikers in front of the UK press earlier today.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Mourinho sets up to keep things tight, after parking two double decker buses to quote a certain Liverpool legend, in the corresponding fixture last season.
That 0-0 on a Monday night this time last year was seen as a good result for United at the time, and Mourinho could be content with a point once more, keeping his side ticking over and continuing their unbeaten start.
However, with Liverpool’s defence notably shaky, goals flowing for United once more and plenty of pace to utilise, it would be a shame if the visitors don’t at least net in tomorrow’s weekend opener.
As is the expectation at the club, Mourinho highlighted his desire to win every fixture and understands the magnitude of this clash.
The form book favours United but that counts for little, especially since a two week international hiatus has halted any momentum generated, with the Portuguese manager expecting a hostile environment, stating home advantage and Jurgen Klopp’s big game record as Reds boss playing key roles in the hosts’ chances.
Quick to dismiss queries as to whether this is United’s biggest test of the season to date, the 54-year-old noted how no match is easy no matter who the opponent.
Progress has unquestionably been made since the reverse fixture, with Mourinho highlighting the table, results and confidence as to why his team have built on the last campaign.
Saturday will see a real battle unfold in the northwest, with United hoping to build on their unbeaten run of six league matches against Liverpool come tomorrow afternoon.