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Romelu Lukaku given the all clear after ankle injury

The international break is always a worrying time for football club managers and even fans, as players always run the risk of picking up an injury. For Manchester United, the ‘international break curse’ has already struck after Marouane Fellaini picked up a knee injury, during Belgium’s victory 4-3 over Bosnia and Herzegovina. United fans were certainly not happy, particularly as Belgium had already secured their World Cup qualification prior to the game, alongside Fellaini having already having been a doubt.

Roberto Martinez, however, defended the decision to play Fellaini and has at least brought some good news to United fans, revealing that Romelu Lukaku is ‘100% fit’ to play against Cyprus, after picking up a knock on his ankle. However, Martinez may not feel the need to risk Lukaku tomorrow night, after having only participated in one training session. Speaking in a recent interview, Martinez stated:

“Romelu is fit and available, he’s training with us tonight. And no, I have not received a call from Mourinho. The reason that he wasn’t in the squad in the previous game was because he wasn’t 100 per cent. Now he is 100 per cent but we need to take into consideration that he has been with the group for only one [training] session. He’s been working on an individual basis, really good work, but we need to keep that in mind.”

After Fellaini’s set back, Martinez may not want to upset Jose Mourinho even further and risk a Lukaku injury, particularly with United’s important trip to Liverpool coming up this Saturday. The Fellaini injury is certainly a big blow for United, but a Lukaku setback would certainly be a bigger one for the reds. It would be expected that Ander Herrera will be given the call up from Mourinho and partner Nemanja Matic in the middle of the field, but United do not have this depth in quality when it comes to their striking options. As the club’s top scorer this season, after an explosive start with seven goals in seven Premier League games, Lukaku is arguably the first name on the team sheet and is, of course, the only fit senior striker in the squad.

With Marcus Rashford predominantly being utilised on the left-wing, alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury, Lukaku is the only natural option up top for Mourinho and will be certainly starting at Anfield this Saturday, if he is deemed fit. As mentioned, Belgium have already secured their World Cup qualification and therefore there is no real need to risk Lukaku, in a such an insignificant fixture.

Martinez’s reference to having ‘not received a call from Mourinho’ would certainly suggest that he is wary of the backlash that he may receive, should he start Lukaku. However, one must remember that if he has been passed fit, Martinez has every right to select Lukaku, as he is, of course, his international manager. On the contrary, if Lukaku were to get injured, it would also be a big blow for Belgium, particularly with the World Cup coming in the Summer. It would certainly be in the best interests of both parties, if Lukaku were to given his much-needed rest, tomorrow night.

Written by Joshua Gmerek-Iftakhar

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