Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s time at Manchester United has been something of a disappointment so far. The captain of the Armenian national side has only started one game so far this season, the Manchester derby in September and was promptly substituted at half time having struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game. Mkhitaryan has struggled for both form and fitness since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund, but at least it’s clear that Jose Mourinho rates him. There’s a feeling that once Mkhitaryan is able to get a run in the side, he should be able to nail down a role on the right-hand side of attack.
His return to the side has been slow, however, and despite being touted for availability for last Sunday’s visit of Stoke City, Mkhitaryan didn’t even make United’s bench. Thankfully, some light has been shed on his absence. The quotes below, obtained by the Manchester Evening News come from one of United’s club doctors, Steve McNally, and were addressed to the Armenian FA regarding Mkhitaryan’s involvement in the country’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Romania and Poland in the next week.
“Henrikh is still undergoing late stage rehabilitation from the left thigh muscle injury that he sustained earlier this month whilst playing for Manchester United.Although his progress has been good over the past week, he is participating in limited aspects of team training and is not yet able to train fully without restrictions or play competitively.
“In view of that I would be grateful if he could be allowed to withdraw from the National Team for the forthcoming training camp and FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches in order to remain in Manchester to complete his rehabilitation.”
United are wise to preach caution with Mkhitaryan; he returned from international duty in September not fully fit, and whilst it was arguably a risk by Mourinho to select him to start against Manchester City, the injury that has subsequently kept him out of action for the last 4 weeks was arguably avoidable. In that sense, United need to manage his recovery carefully, and not over-exert him. For instance, it would be particularly unwise to drop him into the side that visits Anfield a week on Monday, given Liverpool games are typically intense, emotional affairs, but his presence would be particularly well-suited to Fenerbahce’s visit to Old Trafford in the Europa League in two weeks’ time. Mkhitaryan has the quality to be a big part of Mourinho’s United team; he just needs to be managed carefully in these first few months.