The Armenian is expected to miss at least two matches with an ankle injury he sustained when tackled by Danny Rose in the 1-0 defeat of Tottenham on Sunday.
Manchester United travel to Crystal Palace then are atface West Bromwich Albion on Saturday yet the United manager would not confirm Rooney, the captain, is Mkhitaryan’s automatic replacement.
“Rooney, [Marcus] Rashford, [Jesse] Lingard, Ashley Young, Memphis Depay – that’s a position where we have lots of players so that will not be another problem, to chose a player to play,” Mourinho said. “The problem is he [Mkhitaryan] was playing so well and now he’s not there.”
Mourinho said he feared the worst when seeing a replay of Rose’s challenge. “When I watched the tackle on TV I was a bit scared. Hopefully he can play at Christmas [Boxing Day], we believe it’s possible. So when I saw him on the stretcher I thought it would be more difficult. It’s a pity because he is going to miss matches in his best period but at least we don’t lose a player for so long.”
Mkhitaryan was the matchwinner against Spurs following his first United goal and man-of-the-match display in the Europa League win against Zorya in Odessa on Thursday. This came after he was previously out of favour under the Portuguese.
For Mourinho there is particular satisfaction as he specifically identified Mkhitaryan to the board as a summer signing. “I have had players with a similar adaptation process,” he said. “But we bought him, he was not a player chosen by other people.
“We bought him because I asked the club to do it because I liked the player, I analysed the player, so it would be more frustrating for me if everything went wrong. But he needed the period of adaptation at every level and in that period he was a great professional because maybe another guy in this position would find excuses. He would blame the manager, he would blame the pitch, he would blame the weather, he would blame something, like many of the players now do.
“He was quiet, he closed his mouth, worked really hard waiting for this opportunity and is playing so well now. But hopefully it’s not a few matches out that are going to stop his evolution.”
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