Alexis Sanchez could be out for up to six weeks with the torn hamstring he suffered in training for Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho believes Sanchez will miss the Christmas programme after pulling up in training on Thursday with what the United boss described as an ‘aggressive muscular injury’.
It is expected to keep him out for significantly longer than Victor Lindelof who was sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring injury.
MATCHES ALEXIS SANCHEZ COULD MISS
Dec 1: Southampton (A)
Dec 5: Arsenal (H)
Dec 8: Fulham (H)
Dec 12: Valencia (A) (Champ League)
Dec 16: Liverpool (A)
Dec 22: Cardiff City (A)
Dec 26: Huddersfield Town (H)
Dec 30: Bournemouth (H)
Jan 2: Newcastle United (A)
Jan 5: FA Cup third round
Jan 13: Tottenham Hotspur (A)
‘No scans yet but the player is experienced, the player knows what the injury is,’ said Mourinho.
‘Also from the top of my experience, just the painful scream and the way the injury happened I know it’s going to be for a long time.
‘It’s not the little muscular injury that in one week or 10 days the player is ready. It’s for me and also for Alexis, the feelings before the scans is that the grade is different than the (Victor) Lindelof one and the Lindelof one was not an easy one so Alexis has what I used to call an aggressive muscular injury.’
Mourinho reiterated that he expects David de Gea to sign a new long-term contract at Old Trafford after United activated the 12-month extension on his current deal.
‘He wants to stay and I want him to stay, of course,’ added Mourinho. ‘He’s the level of player Manchester United needs. Manchester United needs the best players in the world. If we want to be Manchester United we need the best player in the world.
‘The manager wants him to stay, the board wants, David’s agent wants him to stay, he’s not the kind of agent that is manipulative like others, his agent lets him think and decide by himself so the point is to agree the contract and that’s just my feeling, they are going to finish well.’
Mourinho paid tribute to Marouane Fellaini whose injury-time winner against Young Boys sent United into the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday night. He admitted that the big Belgian is ‘not Maradona’, but praised him for coming up with some crucial goals.
‘I think now he’s getting (credit),’ said Mourinho. ‘I think until I came here probably no, but I think now everyone gives him what he deserves. Everybody knows Marouane is not Maradona, but everyone knows what Marouane is and what he can give. In this moment, especially this season and last, he did what strikers couldn’t do which is score goals in important moments.
‘I know him very well and I know the positions he can play, the jobs he can do. This season you saw him as a third centre-back against Burnley and as a striker and as a No 8, which is basically the position where Marouane has more balance and knowhow. But he’s very important in both boxes, first third and last third. Now people know what Marouane is and he also feels that good feeling.’