Manchester United v Leicester preview: Jose Mourinho to assess World Cup stars before opener
Last Updated: 10/08/18 4:15pm
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will make a late decision on his World Cup stars ahead of the opening Premier League fixture of the season against Leicester, live on Sky Sports.
United host the Foxes on Friday Night Football, but the squad has been blighted by injuries with six first-team players ruled out of the curtain-raiser.
Mourinho welcomed back Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku this week in training, but the Portuguese is reluctant to rush them back despite the shortage of options.
He said: "They returned on Monday. They trained Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today [Thursday] so you can imagine they are not really fit and ready but we have needs.
"After training I will speak will that group of players because everyone is different physically and mentally.
"I want to see how available they feel they are because it is very important they are feeling to understand they think they can help or not help."
Leicester manager Claude Puel refused to reveal if Harry Maguire or Jamie Vardy will play at Old Trafford after only returning this week from their holidays following their World Cup commitments.
"We will see," the Frenchman said. "Harry and Jamie are ready in their minds, but after I don't know if they're ready in their body, with their fitness levels.
"We have another training session this afternoon, and then we will see."
Manchester United's squad is stretched through injuries and fitness issues with returning World Cup stars heading into their Premier League opener against Leicester.
Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot are out through injury on Friday, as are Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic.
Paul Pogba, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini will be assessed after returning late following their World Cup exertions, while Anthony Martial's availability is unclear after missing the final pre-season friendly at Bayern Munich. New boys Lee Grant and Fred are available.
Leicester could be missing up to six players for the trip to Old Trafford. Matty James (Achilles) and Nampalys Mendy (muscle) are the only definite absentees but James Maddison should shake off a knock.
Puel will make a late call on Maguire and Vardy while late calls will be made on Jonny Evans (muscle) and Demarai Gray (ankle).
Deadline day signing Filip Benkovic could make his debut, while fellow new recruits Ricardo Pereira and Rachid Ghezzal are available for selection.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games against Leicester City, winning four and drawing three, and have lost just one of the last 18 (W13 D4).
- At Old Trafford, Leicester City have lost on seven of their last eight visits in the league (D1), scoring a total of just three goals in that period.
- Man Utd have won their opening fixture more often than any other side in Premier League history (17).
- The last time Man Utd and Leicester City met on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign was back in 1998-99, with Man Utd coming back from 0-2 behind to draw 2-2 at Old Trafford.
- This is only the second time in English Football League history that the top-flight season has kicked off on a Friday, and Leicester have been involved both times. The other occasion was last season, when Leicester lost 3-4 at Arsenal.
- Man Utd's Juan Mata has scored four goals in his last four Premier League appearances against Leicester, though only one of these has come at Old Trafford. Only against Norwich (5) has the Spaniard scored more Premier League goals than he has versus Leicester (4).
This will be a good game. Pressure is on at United after not a great pre-season. This should be perfect for Leicester as United will have a go and they can be caught on the counter-attack, but they'll miss Riyad Mahrez. I just think Mourinho will find a way to get off to a winning start.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (9/2 with Sky Bet)