Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he was never concerned about his Manchester United career despite making a slow start to life at Old Trafford.
The United playmaker made just one substitute appearance in two and a half months earlier this season as he struggled for fitness and form following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.
But, as the Armenian prepared for United’s home game with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the 28-year-old claimed he was never concerned about his place in Jose Mourinho’s plans.
“Our life is worthless without difficulties,” Mkhitaryan said. “Every person must be able to handle difficulties and the same concerns me.
“But it was not difficult for me to overcome these difficulties as I knew that sooner or later I would get my chance and I would use that.
“Yes, there are cases when a person faces much tougher problems, but he or she must be ready to face them. I just waited for my chance. I worked and I worked hard, waiting for my chance, got it and used that.”
Since being replaced at half time of his first league start, against Manchester City in September, Mkhitaryan has emerged as an increasingly influential figure in a United team that has won the League Cup and is still hunting success in the Europa and Premier Leagues.
And, having scored in Armenia’s World Cup qualifying win over Kazakhstan at the weekend, he could return to the starting line-up for the visit of West Brom, having been on the bench for United’s last outing, a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough two weeks ago.
– Injury trouble –
United midfielder Paul Pogba, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Europa League win over FC Rostov, has not recovered in time to play and is one of five senior players unavailable for the return to league action.
Central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both injured while on international duty with England, will also be absent, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera continue to serve suspensions.
“So we lose four and I think Paul Pogba is also out. So we lose five. So we are in a bit of trouble,” said Mourinho, whose team are four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool in the race for Champions League qualification.
“I don’t know how but both central defenders got injured in the English camp even before the match. The match was on the Sunday against Lithuania and they were injured in the training session.”
Having beaten Arsenal 3-1 in their last game before the international break to move to 43 points, West Brom’s only significant concern is the form of leading striker Salomon Rondon.
The Venezuelan ended a 15-game goal drought this week when he scored for his country in a 3-1 defeat to Chile but is likely to be a substitute at Old Trafford.
With Rondon not due back from his international travels until 48 hours before kick-off, he is expected to be held back for the midweek trip to Watford with Wales forward Hal Robson-Kanu in line to start against United.
“He’s been disappointed he’s not been playing,” Albion manager Tony Pulis said of Robson-Kanu.
“He’s made me aware of that. Every training session he’s been first-class and when we win games there’s no one happier than him.
“He’s been a real stalwart in respect of his experience and character.
“Most clubs I’ve been at, you know you get it right because the people out of the team are still really competitive and hard-working for the team.”
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- 2022-23 Premier League TV Channel schedule on Peacock
- Where to find Chelsea vs Spurs in Canada on TV
- Where to find Nottingham Forest vs. West Ham on US TV
- Where to find Almeria vs. Real Madrid on US TV
- Where to find Bayern Munich vs. Wolfsburg on US TV
- Where to find Chelsea vs. Spurs on US TV
- Where to find Kilmarnock vs. Celtic on US TV
- Ten Hag given baptism of fire to Man Utd’s new reality
- New-look Barca frustrated by Rayo in season opener
- Champions Milan off to winning start, Dumfries steals show for Inter