Wayne Rooney joins Ibrahimovic, Rashford and Martial on the sidelines
Manchester United’s strikeforce has been wiped out for Monday night’s FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea after it was revealed that Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will miss the clash at Stamford Bridge.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting a three-game domestic ban, Jose Mourinho has suddenly been left without a recognised striker to face his old club.
Rooney was injured in a collision with Phil Jones in the final training session before the squad left for London by train on Sunday although it’s understood that Jones was not to blame in any way for the incident.
Martial has also been ruled out through injury while Rashford was taken ill and could not travel.
The news is a hammer blow to United’s hopes of overcoming Chelsea and retaining the trophy they won at Wembley in May.
Mourinho appears likely to turn to midfielder Marouane Fellaini as a makeshift target man, or he could opt for the pace of winger Ashley Young to resolve the extraordinary situation.
United took their preferred route of travelling by train on the eve of a game in London, catching their First Class service from Stockport station as rivals Liverpool moved six points ahead of them in the race to finish in the top four.
As the Reds were beating Burnley 2-1 on Sunday, Mourinho and Co embarked on their journey to the capital without talisman Ibrahimovic, who begins his three-match suspension for violent conduct towards Tyrone Mings in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth last weekend.
Ibrahimovic was not the only notable absentee from the squad heading for the bright lights of London with attacking options available to Mourinho depleted for the last eight tie as they look to keep their treble hopes alive.
Rashford is suffering from illness while Martial and Rooney are injured after failing to complete the final training session at Carrington ahead of the game.
With the EFL Cup already in the bag courtesy of the 3-2 win over Southampton at Wembley last month, United will look to reach the Europa League quarter-finals by winning their second leg with Rostov next Thursday as they go in search of their own unique treble.
Mourinho returns to his former club looking to avenge the 4-0 defeat by the Blues in October, but the Portuguese knows he will face a strong side as Antonio Conte sets his sights on silverware in his first season.
United will be determined to end Chelsea’s hopes of a League and Cup double by inflicting only a second defeat on the Blues in 22 matches – especially after Monday’s opponents taunted them on their official website.
Mourinho’s men ‘are enjoying a long unbeaten run in the league stretching back to October,’ the preview article read. ‘It has lifted them all the way from sixth to sixth.’
While Conte will no doubt have alerted his players of the extra incentive such a dig may have provided the visitors, the challenge of stopping the runaway Premier League leaders four days after the long trip to Rostov is formidable.
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