Rafa Benitez has been talking about his attacking options ahead of the FA Cup fourth round game at Oxford.
The United boss confirms that Dwight Gayle is still injured and will miss this game, then with two Championship games following on closely behind, I think it would be a massive bonus if the league’s top scorer makes any of them. Wolves away in two weeks time maybe looking more likely.
Rafa Benitez has confirmed though that Aleksandar Mitrovic can definitely play, with his only decision being whether to play him from the start or bring the Serbian off the bench.
The Manager though appears to be definitely keeping Daryl Murphy on the sidelines to make sure he is fit for QPR on Wednesday, saying the team can ‘manage without’ the Irish international today.
Rafa talks of also having Ayoze Perez and Yoan Gouffran as other alternatives to play the main striker role against Oxford but the smart money must be on Mitro making his comeback in the starting eleven, his first match since injuring himself three weeks ago at Birmingham in the third round.
With Daryl Murphy then surely starting on Wednesday night, all eyes will then be on what Rafa Benitez does for Derby County a week today.
Longer-term of course it will be even more interesting when Dwight Gayle is ready to play again, Rafa showed no interest in playing him with Mitrovic but could he see a Murphy/Gayle partnership as workable?
Elsewhere in the team, we could finally get another look at Jesus Gamez.
Benitez having confirmed that he is also in the squad this afternoon after at last recovering from his long-term injury problems.
“Aleksandar Mitrovic is doing well in the training sessions, so we have to decide if he starts (v Oxford), how long he could play.
“Or if he doesn’t start, then when to bring him on to help the team, but he can play.
“We can play Ayoze Perez there and Mitrovic is coming back, so I think we can manage, more or less, without Daryl Murphy from the start.
“We have Anita, Gayle and Aarons injured but the others are fine.
“It’s important to approach the game using the squad. We have three players away, so we need to balance the team.
“I think that we have to balance the team (to play Oxford) with some young players and some players coming back from injuries.