Lin­de­lof: We are head­ing to Eti­had full of con­fi­dence

Manchester Evening News - - THE 177TH DERBY - By CIARAN KELLY

VIC­TOR Lin­de­lof ad­mits his team­mates are ‘very con­fi­dent’ United can go to the Eti­had and make it ‘dif­fi­cult’ for City to­mor­row.

Af­ter a tough start to the sea­son in which the Reds won just four of their open­ing 10 games in all com­pe­ti­tions, Jose Mour­inho has got things back on track and his side are now just four points off the top four.

Time and time again this year, United have come from be­hind to pull off some fa­mous come­backs, such as Wed­nes­day night’s 2-1 win against Ju­ven­tus in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Per­haps the most sat­is­fy­ing turn­around for United fans this year was the derby vic­tory in April. They went into half-time for­tu­nate to only be 2-0 down at the Eti­had but man­aged to turn the game on its head in the sec­ond half to de­lay City’s ti­tle cel­e­bra­tions.

The re­sult? A bru­tal dress­ing room in­quest as Fabian Delph, Yaya Toure, Vin­cent Kom­pany and Pep Guardiola some­how tried to make sense of how City lost the game.

And Lin­de­lof be­lieves re­cent results have given the United squad the be­lief they can get an­other re­sult against their bit­ter ri­vals.

“It’s a very good team, es­pe­cially at home, so it’s go­ing to be a very tough task for us,” Lin­de­lof said.

“But we feel very con­fi­dent that we can go there and make it dif­fi­cult for them.

“It’s a very good team with very good play­ers so you have to be on your toes all the time. You can’t re­lax for a sec­ond, you have to al­ways be fo­cused and ready for ev­ery­thing, so I’m look­ing for­ward to the game and, hope­fully, I will play and I can help the team to an­other win.”

Lin­de­lof has been at the heart of United’s re­vival in re­cent weeks – start­ing the past five games – and is be­gin­ning to look like the con­fi­dent de­fender who impressed Mour­inho dur­ing his time at Ben­fica. For so long David de Gea has been with­out a set­tled cen­tre­back partnership in front of him and while United are strug­gling to keep clean sheets, Lin­de­lof and Chris Smalling have been their most re­li­able pair­ing this sea­son. What a con­trast to a year ago when Lin­de­lof had an af­ter­noon to for­get at Hud­der­s­field and

ROMELU Lukaku could re­turn for United in to­mor­row’s derby.

The striker missed the two wins over Bournemouth and Ju­ven­tus with a thigh in­jury he sus­tained in train­ing last Fri­day, but took part in the squad’s train­ing ses­sion at Car­ring­ton yes­ter­day.

It is un­der­stood he has done light train­ing the for the past two days.

United have coped well with­out Lukaku, who was dropped for the 2-1 win against Ever­ton two weeks ago, but Mour­inho thinks there is a chance the Bel­gian could be avail­able at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

“Yeah, Lukaku is train­ing,” Mour­inho said. “If the an­swer is pos­i­tive and we have, of course, one more ses­sion to­mor­row, if the an­swer is pos­i­tive he’s ready, but in this mo­ment I can only say he trains with the team – I don’t know his an­swer.”

Mour­inho added: “No new in­juries. So from Ju­ven­tus we don’t bring im­por­tant in­juries.

“I don’t think any player that was avail­able for Ju­ven­tus will be out. We have a chance that Lukaku could be back.” strug­gled to nail down a start­ing berth. So how im­por­tant has Mour­inho been in help­ing the Swede ad­just to the rigours of English foot­ball?

“I think ever since I came he has been very im­por­tant to me,” he said.

“I can’t find the right word in English but, yes, very im­por­tant for me.”

Romelu Lukaku could yet play a part in the derby

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