Cape Town - Jose Mourinho has confirmed Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss Manchester United's trip to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night but he hopes to have Sunday's match-winner against Tottenham back in the squad soon.
The Armenian's firm finish saw off Spurs at Old Trafford to provide a real boost heading into another Premier League fixture against a side from London as the Reds visit Alan Pardew's Eagles.
"Hopefully, Mkhitaryan can play at Christmas," said Mourinho at his pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon.
"We believe it’s possible. When I saw him on the stretcher, I thought it was more difficult; when I watch the tackle on TV, I was a bit scared, but no. It’s a pity, because he’s going to miss matches in his best period, but at least we won’t lose a player for so long."
The United manager has options in the middle of defence due to Eric Bailly's return to fitness and the splendid form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo of late.
"They’ve done very well," he said of Jones and Rojo. "I think you are a journalist and you are the one who admits they deserve more. There is a concept sometimes around you that some players deserve more for good and for bad, more headlines than others, but I don’t think they’re worried about that.
"They’re playing well, they’re playing more than ever and better than ever, and now we have a third central defender to rotate. We gave a rest to Jones in Ukraine and now he played against Tottenham free of injury or tiredness; we now have a third central defender in Bailly. Until the end of the year, hopefully we can manage with those three in the two positions."
Another player who will be absent on Wednesday night is Antonio Valencia after the Ecuadorian right-back picked up his fifth booking of the season and consequently received a one-match ban.
"It's a loss as he is playing phenomenally and having a great season," Mourinho told MUTV in an exclusive interview.
"He likes to attack and was previously a winger so he's happy with the way the team plays. But he's suspended and that's football, a feature of that, and we have to trust other players.
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