Phil Jones: Manchester United have strength to cope without Ibrahimovic and Pogba

Phil Jones believes Manchester United have "more than enough" to cope with key absentees and their testing fixture schedule at managerless Middlesbrough.

Jose Mourinho's men arrive at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday lunchtime in search of a much-needed victory, having drawn eight times during a 17-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

United head to the north east after progressing to the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday, although Paul Pogba and Daley Blind were forced off during the narrow last-16 second-leg win against Rostov.

Pogba will definitely miss the trip to Boro along with suspended pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera, but Jones is confident United will have the wherewithal to head into the international break with an important victory.

"Maybe it wasn't a sparkling performance the other night, but it was one that was pleasing and positive and we're through to the next round," Jones said.

"Middlesbrough have just sacked the manager as well so it will probably be even tougher than what it would have been.

"But we've got more than enough to cope with that. We have strength in depth in this squad and that's why we need everyone.

"There is always an added incentive for everyone playing Manchester United as it is, but when you sack the manager it's even more of a boost for them.

"Especially for the ones who have not been playing in the squad who can force their way into the team and impress.

"It will be a tough game, but we need to be ready for it."

Aitor Karanka's departure will no doubt shake things up at Boro, who have slipped into the Premier League drop zone.

An inability to score has cost them dearly this term, with that lack of cutting edge having seen them draw 10 matches, a league high along with United.

Mourinho's side were held to a 1-1 home draw by Bournemouth in their last Premier League outing and Jones, called up this week to the England squad, knows they can ill-afford any further slip-ups.

"Those 12 o'clock kick-offs can be good if you win as then you've got the rest of the day to celebrate and enjoy it," the defender told MUTV. "On the other hand, if you lose, it's not a nice feeling.

"You spend the rest of the day mithering about the game and going over it in your mind for the next eight hours. We need to make sure we're ready for it.

"It will be a difficult game. Middlesbrough are among the teams struggling at the moment, but have got good players still. It won't be easy up there.

"I think the first 15 minutes will be key. It's a 12 o'clock kick-off and I'm sure they will be ratting about from the first minute.

"We just need to concentrate on winning. Sunday is massive. We all know that. We all know the importance of the game. I would take us playing badly now and winning games.

"If you look at all the times we've drawn at home when playing so well, and ultimately we drew, it felt like we'd lost. So points are massive at the moment."

KEYWORDS: sport, soccer.

 

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