Rooney in midfield, Mourinho and Tuanzebe at centre-back - Manchester United boss assesses injury crisis
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho could deploy Wayne Rooney in midfield against Swansea City after seeing his options dwindle further during Thursday's derby at Manchester City and joked he might pick himself at centre-back.
United held out for a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium as they withstood sustained second-half pressure and finished with 10 men after Marouane Fellaini headbutted Sergio Aguero during the closing stages.
The Belgium international is set for a three-match suspension, while Mourinho confirmed Paul Pogba would not return from a hamstring injury until next week's Europa League semi-final first leg at Celta Vigo.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah was deployed as an emergency midfielder after Fellaini's dismissal but suffered a dislocated shoulder as United defended a City corner in what proved to be the last action of the match.
It means a possible recall in a deeper-lying role for Rooney, who was an unused substitute at City despite United being without long-term knee injury victim Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho pledged not to use his captain in midfield after he played there with mixed results during the second half of last season under Louis van Gaal and for England at Euro 2016.
He briefly went back on his word, unsuccessfully as Rooney struggled in the 3-1 defeat at Watford last September, but the current paucity of alternatives might force his hand.
"Yeah, it's an option," Mourinho said. "We don't have [midfielders]. We have [Ander] Herrera and [Michael] Carrick and nothing else.
"Tim Mensah in an emergency can help the team with strong legs and energy but he's another one that we miss.
"We are in trouble but will we fight, that's for sure."
One point to keep in the race pic.twitter.com/pZQT38M53Q-- Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) April 27, 2017
United remain fifth in the table, a point behind City and two shy of Liverpool with a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp's side. Arsenal are four points behind the Red Devils in sixth having played a game fewer.
Despite his current injury woes and the tight nature of the battle for Champions League qualification, Mourinho does not regret allowing midfield duo Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger to leave mid-season.
"To have lots of players without playing is also something the players don't want," he explained.
"We didn't tell Morgan: 'We want to sell you.' Morgan asked: 'Please sell me - I want to go, I want to play every game.'
"There is always this dilemma of keeping a bigger squad but the players, they don't want to stay.
"Even sometimes young players, when they are not playing, they ask to leave. So it is very hard."
Eric Bailly and Daley Blind performed impressively at centre-back once more against City, with England duo Chris Smalling (knee) and Phil Jones (broken toe) still sidelined.
Great effort from the whole team. Now we just have to focus on the next game. pic.twitter.com/MpgRKsutT4-- Eric Bailly (@ericbailly24) April 27, 2017
Like Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo also sustained knee ligament damage against Anderlecht last week and Mourinho only has youngster Axel Tuanzebe as centre-back cover - unless he thinks outside the box when Paul Clement's struggling side visit Old Trafford on Sunday.
"In this moment the only options we have are Axel, Eric and Daley. I think Eric and Daley, they played again absolutely amazing," he said.
"I have to speak with them and see how there are and see how they feel.
"I am also training hard in the gym so I can be an option also - Mourinho and Tuanzebe against Swansea."