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EFL Cup final: Carrick in, Mkhitaryan out for Red Devils



Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is available but Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been ruled out for the EFL Cup final against Southampton on Sunday.
Armenia star Mkhitaryan was forced off with a hamstring problem shortly after scoring the only goal of the game in United’s 1-0 Europa League win at Saint-Etienne on Thursday.
Carrick was also withdrawn after complaining of a calf problem, but while the experienced midfielder is available for the Wembley showdown, Mkhitaryan will be forced to watch on from the sidelines.
Manager Jose Mourinho told a news conference: “Michael is available. He left the pitch in the right moment. Mkhitaryan is out. [Phil] Jones – let’s see and decide tomorrow [Saturday].”
Mourinho also confirmed captain Wayne Rooney has recovered from a muscular problem and will be in his plans for Sunday’s match at Wembley.
Rooney this week committed his future to the club after heavy speculation linking him with the lucrative Chinese Super League.
“He did his statement in the right moment, in the best moment,” Mourinho said. “I told you in the last press conference that the questions you were asking were for him. I think he did it in exactly the right moment.
“He says he stays, he wants to help the team to fight for trophies. I said already that I would be happy if that’s the decision.
“He’s fine. He’s training with the team. He was not ready for Saint-Etienne but, no doubt, he’ll be involved in the game.”
The match represents Mourinho’s first chance to deliver a trophy at United – excluding the Community Shield won last August – but the former Chelsea boss claims success for the club as a whole is more important to him than personal achievements.
“The club is more important than me. I have so many good things in my career, I won’t be influenced by a little detail, “he said.
“The club won a trophy last season. Let’s try to win another. Plus, the quality and dimension of our football – and the fans’ happiness, their empathy with the way the team plays – is very important.
“It could be good for the club, for me, obviously. I was looking more to myself at the beginning of my career but I’m in a period where I am more and more a club man.”

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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