Jose Mourinho hopes Manchester United’s players will shrug off the effects of the stormy FA Cup loss to Chelsea when they resume Europa League hostilities with a depleted Rostov on Thursday.
Ander Herrera’s 35th-minute dismissal in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final obliged United to toil with 10 men for an hour as they succumbed to a sapping 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mourinho’s former club.
United have the upper hand against Rostov, having netted an away goal in a 1-1 draw in last week’s last-16 first leg in Russia, but their heavy schedule means freshness remains a concern.
“We have a very important match on Thursday and I want to rest a little bit to try to prepare the team as best we can,” United manager Mourinho told reporters at Stamford Bridge.
“That’s the most important thing now”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension and injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial meant Marcus Rashford had to play as a lone striker at Chelsea despite struggling with illness.
But while it is unclear whether Rooney or Martial will feature on Thursday, Ibrahimovic and Herrera will both be at Mourinho’s disposal as their suspensions only apply to domestic matches.
Centre-back Eric Bailly is also available again after missing the first leg through suspension.
With United’s FA Cup quest over, the Europa League is the only piece of silverware Mourinho’s side can hope to add to the League Cup they won with a 3-2 victory over Southampton last month.
Aleksandr Bukharov’s second-half equaliser saved Rostov from defeat last Thursday on a tricky pitch that left Mourinho fuming, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s 35th-minute opener meant United were content to return to England with a draw.
“They came back to 1-1 and then you can do two things: you can attack or you can be a bit smarter and know there’s a second leg. We chose the second option,” said United defender Daley Blind.
“We didn’t underestimate them and we know what they’re capable of in the home game.
“I’m sure we’ll play on a better pitch, in better conditions, with all the crowd behind us. We have to finish it at home.”