Thursday 27 April 2017 19:11, UK
Jose Mourinho has again criticised Phil Jones and Chris Smalling for being “cautious” in their recoveries from injury but says they do have a future at Manchester United next season.
Smalling (knee) and Jones (foot) have missed United's last seven matches and on Sunday Mourinho urged them to "be brave" by making themselves available for Thursday's crucial derby clash with Manchester City, which is live on Sky Sports.
However, neither has recovered in time, meaning Daley Blind is likely to start alongside Eric Bailly at the heart of United's defence.
Mourinho considered a move for Benfica's Victor Lindelof in January and his frustration with the lengthy recoveries of Jones and Smalling has led to questions about whether he may be tempted to replace one or both in the summer.
But when asked if the England international duo had a future under him next season, Mourinho replied: "Of course they have. I hope this season.
"It's not just about them. It's about the philosophy and mentality around them. Cautious. Cautious. Cautious. Just a cautious approach.
"It's a profile, it's the philosophy of work. Just that."
When quizzed as to whether he thought players were less inclined to put their bodies on the line nowadays, he added: "Professional football at a high level? Yeah."
Smalling, Jones and Rojo are part of a lengthy United injury list that also includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata.
It is cruel timing for United as they face a crucial final four weeks that will define their season but Mourinho insists he has every faith in the players he has available.
"I think the fact that we are fighting for important things still is a good motivation to keep people together, to make people make an extra effort," Mourinho said.
"Wednesday's training session started at 3pm: I was here at 10:30am and when I arrived some players were already here, taking care of little details and taking care of their recovery. That is motivation.
"I think maybe opponents they look at us with different eyes because we don't have Zlatan and Paul and Marcos and Mata and Jones and Smalling.
"Maybe they look at us with different eyes but I think they are not stupid, they are not naive, and they know that we are going to give them a fight."