The Red Devils are aiming to rebound from their derby defeat in the Europa League group stage against Dutch opponents Feyenoord.
Jose Mourinho revealed he left Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United ‘s Europa League squad to face Feyenoord to give him a breather.
United skipper Rooney has played every game under Mourinho this season and the Reds boss confirmed he felt it was time to give the 30-year-old a rest.
Rooney has not travelled to Rotterdam for Thursday’s opening group stage game, along with Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw, who also remained in Manchester.
“Wayne took it in a professional way, like the other ones,” said Mourinho.
“He’s played every game since the beginning of the season, he played also 90 minutes for England and he played 90 minutes last weekend.
“I want him to be fresh for the next Premier League match and at the same time it’s the kind of attacking position where I have a lot of solutions and where people are working hard to have a chance.
“Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw didn’t travel with the team, they are positions were I have other solutions where I prefer to have fresh players for this game and for the game at the weekend.
“We play at midday on Sunday, so I try to have a strong team here and a strong team, Sunday.”
Thursday marks the anniversary of Luke Shaw’s horror double leg break against PSV Eindhoven, but Mourinho said that never entered his thinking in leaving the England star behind.
“The decision was not made thinking about that negative episode, so the reason is simple – Marcos Rojo is a very good player,” said Mourinho.
“He is working really hard, my options in the Premier League in the last four matches were always Luke, Luke, Luke, so I think it’s time for Marcos to play – a simple decision.”
Mourinho admitted the Europa League was not the competition he wanted to be involved in but vowed to take it seriously.
“This is not a competition Manchester United wants, what I want, what the players want, but it is a competition where we are, and that is the reality, so we have to look at the comp with respect,” said Mourinho.
“We want to do well in the competition and for a club of our stature, to do well is not to go out of the competition at the group stage.”
Mourinho also confirmed Phil Jones will be out for a month with knee ligament damage.