Football/Soccer

Big guns poised to return for Manchester United in EFL Cup clash with Hull

 Big hitters Pogba and Ibrahimovic are set to start against Hull. Picture by PA

Jose Mourinho will bring big hitters Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba into a refreshed Manchester United side for the EFL Cup semi-final against Hull.

In-form United racked up an eighth consecutive victory in all competitions on Saturday as Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls Reading were swatted aside in the FA Cup third round.

Anthony Martial's strike and a Marcus Rashford brace complemented Wayne Rooney's historic effort, kicking off a 4-0 win as he drew level with Sir Bobby Charlton's club record 249-goal haul.

Mourinho made nine changes for the tie and has promised to rotate further on Tuesday, when Hull arrive for the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

"Today I played with fresh players, I don't want to put things in first team or second, first choice or second choice," Mourinho said after Saturday's match.

"Today I played with fresh players, the players that didn't play against West Ham. And the next match against Hull I'm going to play again with fresh players so it's easy to know our team - it's Zlatan, it's Pogba, it's (Ander) Herrera, it's (Antonio) Valencia, the guys who didn't play today."

Ibrahimovic and Pogba were unused substitutes on Saturday, while Herrera and Valencia were left out altogether.

David de Gea, Jesse Lingard and Matteo Darmian were others omitted from the squad along with Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin as speculation continues over the duo's future.

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Luke Shaw is hoping to make his first appearance since November 30 on Tuesday, while fellow defender Marcos Rojo is a doubt after coming off against Reading with an unspecified muscle injury.

"I don't know (if Rojo will be fit)," Mourinho said of the Argentina international.

"With muscles, I always have lots of question marks and I don't like to say. People like to say 'first degree, X days out', 'second degree...' Let's wait."

Rojo has performed manfully in defence of late, but how United would love to be able to call upon a centre-back like Jaap Stam.

 The former United centre-back was warmly received by fans at Old Trafford

Part of the treble-winning team of 1999, the Dutchman was given a warm reception before seeing his Reading side easily overcome.

"I hate losing and I hated losing today," Royals boss Stam said.

"But it's what the players do with it. Whether they learn what to do to improve themselves as players or not.

"It's a great experience for these players. And it's up to them to make it harder for a team like this when they play against them again.

"Good experiences come not just when you're winning games, but also when you lose games.

"And every player, even when you're a young boy, wants to play at this level. So players need to learn from playing in these games, learn how to progress and become better players - and eventually aim to get to the level the opposition are at."

Football/Soccer

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