Juan Mata calls on Manchester United to fill Paul Pogba void

Paul Pogba will miss the Manchester derby through suspension
Image: Paul Pogba will miss the Manchester derby through suspension

Paul Pogba will leave big boots to fill but Manchester United have the squad to cope against Manchester City, says Juan Mata.

Both sides may have to do without key midfielders in this Sunday's Manchester derby, live on Sky Sports Premier League, with David Silva potentially missing through injury and Pogba suspended.

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Mata laughed at suggestions of mind games from City, saying "we know about that" when asked about Silva, but did not disguise the impact Pogba's absence could have on United.

"Yeah, big miss," Mata said after the 2-1 defeat of CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. "He's a fantastic player.

"He did a fantastic assist [on Tuesday night]. He's a very complete midfielder, he can do all things. He will be a big miss but another player will play and try his best.

"I think we have a good squad and have good players to replace any other player. Hopefully we can win for him."

Jose Mourinho assesses the United squad for Sunday's Manchester derby in response to Pep Guardiola's injury prognosis on David Silva

Pogba has previously admitted United "need to win" given the eight-point cushion City have already built and Mata too is desperate to secure derby victory.

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"We are doing what we have to do," the Spain international said. "We would love to be first in the table right now but I think we are doing lots of good things.

"Now, especially on Sunday and during Christmas time, which we all know how difficult it is to win every single game, we need to keep that pace if we want to be in a position to challenge for the title at the end of the season. Hopefully we can do it."

Pep Guardiola's City have been priced as short as 1-16 to lift the Premier League while United are 10-1 with bookmakers and some pundits have already given City the title.

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Mata, though, maintains United must look at the "bigger picture".

"Most [of the pundits] have played football and they know how football can change," Mata said.

"I remember a few seasons ago when United were ahead of City and then they won by goals. It's a crazy league and it's too early to think that it's finished.

"From City, they will tell you the same."

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