Jose Mourinho has told his Manchester United players they must toughen up as they enter the defining month of their season.
United have nine games in April, with Mourinho saying he expects his players to “go to the limits” and “play with pain” in the pursuit of a top-four place and Europa League glory.
With injured defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones out long-term and no return date for world record signing Paul Pogba, Mourinho says his players must give their all.
“They have to be resilient, they have to be professional, they have to be team players, they have to understand the team needs and they have to go to the limits,” said Mourinho.
“They have to play with small injuries, they have to play with pain and play with fatigue, because there’s no other choice.”
Mourinho also admitted United are one Premier League defeat away from focusing entirely on winning the Europa League as a route back into the Champions League.
“In two weeks we’re going to play Chelsea,” said Mourinho. “Before that we play Anderlecht and after that we play Anderlecht [in the Europa League quarter-finals].
“In 15 days, maybe the Premier League is not important for us, maybe it is. If we keep winning matches now, that match against Chelsea is an important match for us.
“But if we lose matches now, that match isn’t important. We want every match to be important until the end of the season.
“If we manage that, to be in the running for two competitions, the boys have to be very resilient, very strong physically, they have to cope with everything.
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“Just like they did in that week against Rostov, coping with the bad pitch, coming back from London by bus.
“They coped playing against Chelsea with 10 men and coped with playing against Rostov three days later. But some bodies they felt it. Pogba’s body felt it and had a negative reaction.
“So we need to be strong and we need to believe.”
On Jones and Smalling, both injured on England duty, Mourinho said: “I think clearly the two English boys are long-term injuries.”