EFL Cup: Hull City v Manchester United preview


Hull City v Manchester United preview

Man Utd travel to Hull City looking to protect a 2-0 lead in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Thursday night.


However, United manager Jose Mourinho, who has strong history with the competition having won it three times across his two spells in charge at Chelsea, does not believe success necessarily has wider significance. "I don't see things in this perspective," he said. "It's nice to win competitions, but I don't think it's crucial to doing well after that."

Mourinho is also wary of potential fixture congestion should United make it through to the final. Reaching the February 26 showpiece, though, would mean the Premier League game against neighbours and top-four rivals Man City, scheduled for the same day, having to be rearranged.

With both Manchester clubs still in the FA Cup and also due to resume European campaigns in the spring, it is unclear when that fixture could be played. "I know that it's going to be hard if we go step by step," Mourinho said. "If, if, if - we go to the field of the ifs - but if we beat Hull and we play the final, then we don't play against Manchester City.

"The match against Manchester City I'm sure they will choose an amazing moment, difficult for us, to make us play against them. "Then we have Europa League, a non-stop competition. In the Europa League you have to play last 32 and last 16. If we are going to progress it's going to be really difficult.

"Let's see what happens in this moment. In this moment we have a 25 per cent chance to win the League Cup, which is the first competition to be decided."

Hull, meanwhile, appear to have been given a new lease of life by the appointment of Marco Silva as manager a week before the sides met in the first leg at Old Trafford where United ran out 2-0 winners. The Tigers remain deep in Premier League relegation trouble, but Mourinho believes his fellow Portuguese will give them a fighting chance of beating the drop. "I knew it, [it is] no surprise for me," said Mourinho. "It was not just the immediate impact of any team that changes the manager.

"For the next couple of weeks there is always an impact, a new feeling, but then things normally go back to the previous situation. "I knew that Marco is such a good coach that the team would really improve. It is still a difficult job in hand, still a big fight with six or seven teams for relegation, but he is a very good coach."

Silva, however, has agreed Ryan Mason's head injury has put a different perspective on his challenge to keep the club in the Premier League. Midfielder Mason is currently making "excellent progress" in St Mary's hospital in London after surgery on Sunday night to repair his fractured skull, sustained during Hull's defeat at Chelsea earlier in the day.

The Tigers take a break from their top-flight survival battle when United visit the KCOM Stadium on Thursday, but Silva said the club's main priority was to maintain its support of Mason and his family as the England international recovers from the damage caused by his clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. "At this moment, we need to forget everything," Silva said. "The most important is the player and his family, the other things are not important."

Hull will be without winger Robert Snodgrass and defender Curtis Davies for United's visit, with the former currently sidelined with a muscle strain, while the latter sustained a hamstring injury at Chelsea. The Tigers are hoping to receive international clearance in time for Liverpool loanee Lazar Markovic to make his debut, but Mason is recovering in hospital after fracturing his skull at Stamford Bridge.

United have close to a full squad available with no fresh injury concerns, while defender Marcos Rojo is also available again after missing the draw at Stoke at the weekend through illness. Defender Eric Bailly will also rejoin the United squad in the coming days following Ivory Coast's elimination from the Africa Nations Cup.


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