No rest for Romelu as min­utes mount up

Man United v Crys­tal Palace

Sport360 - - Football Premier League - By Simon Peach @Si­monPeach editorial@sport360.com

Romelu Lukaku will have to cope with Manch­ester United’s re­lent­less fix­ture sched­ule as Jose Mour­inho can­not af­ford to rest him un­til Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic re­turns.

A sum­mer tar­get for for­mer club Chelsea, United moved quickly to sign the 24-year-old striker in a deal that is al­ready prov­ing smart busi­ness – and even good value de­spite the fact Ever­ton’s cof­fers could even­tu­ally be boosted by £90 mil­lion (Dh443m).

Lukaku made it 10 goals in his first nine United games with a brace in Wed­nes­day’s 4-1 vic­tory at CSKA Moscow in the Cham­pi­ons League and, de­spite only land­ing in the early hours of Thurs­day morn­ing, is set to start again to­day.

The in-form Bel­gium striker can match An­drew Cole’s club record of seven goals in his first seven Premier League matches against em­bat­tled Crys­tal Palace, be­fore at­ten­tion turns to in­ter­na­tional mat­ters with Bel­gium.

Roberto Martinez’s Red Dev­ils have al­ready qual­i­fied for the World Cup so it might be a chance to take things easy on Lukaku, whose role for Mour­inho’s Red Dev­ils will be far more im­por­tant un­til Ibrahi­movic re­turns from his knee in­jury.

“Look, in here with­out Zla­tan we can­not ro­tate the striker, es­pe­cially be­cause Mar­cus Rash­ford is play­ing in other po­si­tions,” Mour­inho said.

“So un­til the mo­ment we have Zla­tan we can­not think about giv­ing rest to our number nine the same way we give in other po­si­tions. We can­not do that.”

While irked by the on­go­ing

sched­ul­ing is­sues im­pact­ing teams in con­ti­nen­tal ac­tion, Mour­inho did not want to be seen as moan­ing as it “doesn’t give me so­lu­tions”. In­stead, he spoke about the im­por­tance of men­tal prepa­ra­tion for games such as to­day against strug­gling Crys­tal Palace.

“Your col­league was ba­si­cally say­ing that we have good re­sults be­cause we are play­ing against bad teams, so how can we be ex­cited with what we are do­ing if we are do­ing that just be­cause we are play­ing against bad teams?” he asked, hav­ing been an­noyed by an ear­lier sug­ges­tion that United have had a kind sched­ule to date. “I don’t think Ever­ton, West Ham, Le­ices­ter will be happy with that, but, okay, we have our feet on the ground.

“We are hum­ble, we know that the great teams of the Premier League we didn’t play them yet, so we are calm, we fol­low our work.”

Cole cus­tomer: Lukaku can match a club record if he scores to­day.

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