Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Thursday hailed new signing Alexis Sanchez as one of the “best attacking players in the world”, confirming he will be in the squad to face Yeovil in the FA Cup.
United travel to the fourth-tier club on Friday at the start of a weekend that will also see Premier League leaders Manchester City tested by Championship high-fliers Cardiff and Liverpool taking on West Brom in the fourth round.
Sanchez is available for the Huish Park tie because he did not appear for Arsenal in their third-round loss at Nottingham Forest.
“We’ve got one of the best attacking players in the world. I think he’ll be very important for us because we want to have the best players possible,” Mourinho told reporters.
“Alexis is a player that becomes more than a player because of his multi-functionality,” he added. “I say he can play in four different positions in attack.”
Earlier this week Yeovil, playing United in the FA Cup for the second time in four seasons, reacted to Sanchez’s potential debut on their home ground.
Mourinho was asked about the possibility of another big acquisition, the return of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford.
“Madrid is on fire, the results are not good,” said the United boss. “I care about the club. I am the last one to add fire. Cristiano is the kind of player that every manager and club wants but only one manager and club can have him, (Zinedine) Zidane and Real Madrid.”
The 25-year-old told the club’s website, www.liverpoolfc.com: “I can still feel it’s not quite right but it’s getting better every day and the good thing is that I’m training with the rest of the group.
“We’re just waiting for this little discomfort to go away and then I’ll be raring to go.”
Moreno does not yet have a potential comeback date in mind, meaning Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with West Brom is likely to come too soon.
He said: “I honestly don’t know. It’ll be the manager who decides exactly when I come back but what I do want to make sure of is that I’m fully 100 per cent when I do make my comeback.”
Seamus Coleman came through his first competitive game since last March unscathed as he competed 58 minutes for Everton’s Under-23s side at Goodison Park on Tuesday night.
The Republic of Ireland captain, who suffered an horrific double leg break 10 months ago whilst playing for his country against Wales in last year’s World Cup 2018 qualifier, took his first steps towards full match fitness against Portsmouth in a 3-0 victory for the Toffees.
Having only returned to training last month, the 29-year-old impressed with a solid run-out under the watchful eye of Blues boss Sam Allardyce in the stands at Goodison.
Here, we take a look at Coleman’s first outing in a blue shirt for 311 days.
💙 | A superb sight!
— Everton (@Everton) January 23, 2018
4th minute: Makes a trademark early run down the right-hand side and digs out a low cross which is cleared at the near post.
13th minute: Comes short for a corner and collects a pass from left-back Luke Garbutt before attempting to hook a ball into the penalty area.
18th minute: Shows no signs of ducking a physical challenge, nailing Pompey’s left winger with a crunching tackle and ending the away side’s attack.
37th minute: Climbs highest to head away a searching ball into the box.
45th minute: Displays plenty of energy to get up the pitch and join in the attack, but an off-side is called.
52th minute: Pings an inch perfect ball from around 40 yards straight onto the chest of Blues attacker Bassala Sambou who then turns and heads for goal.
58th minute: Subbed off just before the hour and gets warm applause from the sparse Goodison crowd – and a hug from Under-23s boss David Unsworth.
Starting in his usual right-back berth, Coleman didn’t have the busiest of nights as Everton were in total command in the Premier League Cup clash.
As anticipated, the hosts gave the defender just under an hour to ease him back after such a long-term injury and everyone at the club will be delighted he is close to making a full first-team return.
The former Sligo Rovers man, who was famously signed for just £60,000 by David Moyes back in 2009, was neat and tidy to begin with before he eventually overlapped and bombed on a few times with pacey runs from deep.
Perhaps his most telling first-half contribution was a powerful tackle where he won the ball – clearly showing he has put any injury worries to the back of his mind.
Given there were just a few hundred people watching under the lights at Goodison, it was mentioned on commentary that you could hear Coleman barking orders on the pitch, again illustrating that it didn’t take him long to get back in the thick of it.
Coleman generally had nothing to do defensively and joined the Toffees attack whenever he could, although he didn’t get in the opposition’s final third much.
Everton club captain Phil Jagielka co-commentated on the match and was delighted to see his long-time team-mate take to the pitch again and get vital minutes under his belt.
“It’s nice to see him back and it’s great news for the first-team,” the veteran defender told Everton’s official YouTube channel.
“It’s a positive tick in the column for Seamus and I look forward to seeing him in training tomorrow (Wednesday) for his cool downs – and he’ll want to be getting in the mixer for first-team selection as soon as possible.”
He added: “Those 58 minutes will stand him in good stead.”
Toffees stalwart Jagielka did however say it won’t be easy for the experienced right-back to immediately force his way back into the reckoning following the emergence of academy graduate Jonjoe Kenny, who has become a fixture in the side this term.
“He’ll be back in the frame for the first-team but I didn’t say back playing (straight away), Jonjoe has played really well and has grown in the role.
“Seamus has got a good battle on for that position – they’re two great lads, two great professionals and two great full-backs.”
The sight of Coleman in an Everton shirt again was not only a welcome one for fans of the Merseysiders, but football fans generally, given that the Republic of Ireland skipper is a well-liked player by many in the game.
The night couldn’t really have gone any better in the sense it went to script with Coleman getting almost a full hour and coming through without any physical concerns.
While Everton are crying out for options at left-back given Leighton Baines is out injured and there is a lack of left-footed players in the squad, Kenny’s form at right-back means they are in no rush to speed-up Coleman’s full comeback.
Expect Coleman to have at least one or two more run-outs, and a behind-closed-door match, before he is selected in Everton’s first-team squad but his eagerly-awaited return is a big boost for everyone especially following James McCarthy’s recent injury.
It will be interesting to see whether he can get back to the level he enjoyed prior to his long spell out.
Let’s not forget, Everton might be in ninth position in the Premier League table but are only six points off the relegation zone and could still be dragged right into a battle at the bottom.
So to put it simply, having Coleman back is very timely.