Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he was never concerned about his
Manchester United career despite making a slow start to life at
The United playmaker made just one substitute appearance in two
and a half months earlier this season as he struggled for fitness
and form following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.
But, as the Armenian prepared for United's home game with West
Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the 28-year-old claimed he was never
concerned about his place in Jose Mourinho's plans.
"Our life is worthless without difficulties," Mkhitaryan said.
"Every person must be able to handle difficulties and the same
"But it was not difficult for me to overcome these difficulties
as I knew that sooner or later I would get my chance and I would
"Yes, there are cases when a person faces much tougher problems,
but he or she must be ready to face them. I just waited for my
chance. I worked and I worked hard, waiting for my chance, got it
and used that."
Since being replaced at half time of his first league start,
against Manchester City in September, Mkhitaryan has emerged as
an increasingly influential figure in a United team that has won
the League Cup and is still hunting success in the Europa and
And, having scored in Armenia's World Cup qualifying win over
Kazakhstan at the weekend, he could return to the starting
line-up for the visit of West Brom, having been on the bench for
United's last outing, a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough two weeks ago.
- Injury trouble -
United midfielder Paul Pogba, who suffered a hamstring injury in
the Europa League win over FC Rostov, has not recovered in time
to play and is one of five senior players unavailable for the
return to league action.
Central defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both injured
while on international duty with England, will also be absent,
while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera continue to serve
"So we lose four and I think Paul Pogba is also out. So we lose
five. So we are in a bit of trouble," said Mourinho, whose team
are four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool in the race for
Champions League qualification.
"I don't know how but both central defenders got injured in the
English camp even before the match. The match was on the Sunday
against Lithuania and they were injured in the training session."
Having beaten Arsenal 3-1 in their last game before the
international break to move to 43 points, West Brom's only
significant concern is the form of leading striker Salomon
The Venezuelan ended a 15-game goal drought this week when he
scored for his country in a 3-1 defeat to Chile but is likely to
be a substitute at Old Trafford.
With Rondon not due back from his international travels until 48
hours before kick-off, he is expected to be held back for the
midweek trip to Watford with Wales forward Hal Robson-Kanu in
line to start against United.
"He's been disappointed he's not been playing," Albion manager
Tony Pulis said of Robson-Kanu.
"He's made me aware of that. Every training session he's been
first-class and when we win games there's no one happier than
"He's been a real stalwart in respect of his experience and
"Most clubs I've been at, you know you get it right because the
people out of the team are still really competitive and
hard-working for the team."