Manchester United predicted starting XI to face Middlesbrough: No Rooney risk for Mourinho

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has some decisions to make in attack for the Premier League visit of Middlesbrough - with Rooney still in search of a United record.

With only one defeat from their previous thirteen Premier League games, Manchester United welcome Middlesbrough to Old Trafford in a rich vein of form.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho after the game

Indeed, after initially taking some time to find his best fit, United manager Jose Mourinho appears to have facilitated a synergy amongst his star performers amid some defensive stability, which has enabled his side to take maximum points from their previous four league matches.

In the final fixture of what has been an eventful 2016 for United, fans of the Red Devils will be hoping for a fifth consecutive victory against a Middlesbrough side who sit in 15th position in the Premier League standings. 

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney with manager Jose Mourinho as he is substituted

Mourinho's main selection decision revolves around forward Wayne Rooney - who is returning from a thigh injury picked up in training prior to the Boxing Day defeat of Sunderland.

West Bromwich Albion's Salomon Rondon clashes with Manchester United's Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones

Consequently, it is likely that David De Gea will continue behind a back four of Antonio Valencia at right back, Matteo Darmian or Daley Blind at left back and the in-form partnership of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo as centre backs.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba speaks with Ander Herrera

In front of United's back line, it is fully anticipated that the now established trio of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba will continue to supplement each other in Mourinho's midfield, as all three are showing encouraging signs of progress heading into 2017.

Manchester United's Anthony Martial comes on as a substitute to replace Juan Mata

The make-up of United's forward line against Middlesbrough consists of who will support the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack. Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial may take up some of Mourinho's considerations, but it is expected that the duo will be joined by Rooney on the Old Trafford bench. 

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho talks to Wayne Rooney

Despite potentially having to miss out on the starting XI, Rooney will be hopeful of some playing time against Middlesbrough, as the goal-getter remains one goal shy of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton's Manchester United scoring record. Middlesbrough could well act as the opportunistic opponent for Rooney to bag his 249th United goal.

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan scores their third goal

However, in the absence of a fully-fit Rooney, after his recent superb form, and outstanding goal against Sunderland, Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the diminutive Juan Mata look set for starting berths behind the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring their second goal

Rooney is not the only United striker looking to secure a scoring record against Middlesbrough - as Ibrahimovic can become Europe's top goalscorer of 2016 if he out-scores Lionel Messi this week. The Barcelona ace is currently on 51 goals for the calendar year, whilst United's number 9 has 50.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough's Gaston Ramirez

Meanwhile, opponents Middlesbrough will be without full back Antonio Barragan, after the one-time Liverpool defender accrued his fifth booking of the season against Burnley and misses the trip to Old Trafford due to suspension. Former United defender Fabio is expected to replace Barragan.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka is also without the injured Victor Fischer, who remians absent with a knee injury. 

Here's the predicted line-ups for both Manchester United and Middlesbrough in full:

Manchester United (4-2-3-1)

Middlesbrough (4-3-2-1)

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