Romelu Lukaku will miss Manchester United’s remaining two Premier League games as he races to be back in action for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 19.
Lukaku injured his right ankle in the win over Arsenal 10 days ago and missed the surprise defeat by Brighton.
Jose Mourinho confirmed that his top scorer will not play against West Ham on Thursday night and Watford on Sunday, but is still aiming to return at Wembley. ‘That’s what we try,’ said the United boss.
Mourinho also revealed that Marouane Fellaini has suffered another setback in a season disrupted by injuries and will also miss the trip to West Ham.
The Belgian’s future at United remains up in the air after he rejected the offer of a new contract.
‘It’s a muscular problem,’ said Mourinho. ‘Again we try to see if is possible for the last match.’
Mourinho confirmed that Alexis Sanchez and Phil Jones are available to face West Ham after they also missed the Brighton defeat.
The United manager criticised his players in the wake of that game, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial believed to be the individuals singled out for failing to seize their opportunities in Lukaku’s absence.
‘For many months you are always asking why this player does not play, why this player is on the bench, why always Lukaku?’ said Mourinho at the time.
‘I know my players better than you, and you do not know them so well to be always asking these questions. You have the answer now when you ask “why always Lukaku?” We are probably not as good as people think we are individually.’
But he was conciliatory when asked about his players’ attitude in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to London.
‘They all work well,’ said Mourinho. ‘Even in weeks that end in bad performances or bad results, I never have anything negative to say about the professionalism of my players during the season. This week was not different.’
The Portuguese coach praised David Moyes for keeping West Ham in the Premier League but claimed that even those managers whose clubs go down – including, potentially, his compatriot Carlos Carvalhal at Swansea – have done a good job.
He added: ‘Every manager that managed to do that, like (Rafa) Benitez and (Chris) Hughton, they start and end the season with the club, and they manage to keep them safely in the Premier League, it’s a great job.
Some other examples got them in the middle of the season and managed to get the points to save them, like David and Roy Hodgson.
‘Yesterday, I think Southampton also guaranteed the Premier League so all of them that succeeded it’s a great job but there are others that unfortunately are going to be relegated that made great jobs.
‘If Carlos with Swansea or David Wagner with Huddersfield, if one of them is relegated I keep saying a hell of a job because they both did very well and one of them is going to be relegated.
‘So it is hard to say but in the specific case of David Moyes the objective was to keep the team in the Premier League and he did it with two matches in hand, which is very good.’