Manchester United hit by striker crisis

Zenith

 . Rooney, Martial, Rashford ruled out of Chelsea tie

 

Jose Mourinho's preparations for Manchester United's FA Cup quarter final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night have been plunged into chaos with his entire strike force ruled out of the game. 

  Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended for the match but United's hopes of retaining the trophy this season have been dealt a severe setback with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney picking up injuries and Marcus Rashford struck down by illness. 

It means all four players will be unavailable for the game against Mourinho's former club and leave the manager with no option but to field a makeshift attack in a damaging blow to their hopes of reaching the last four. 

The crisis upfront could not have come at a worse time with United in the midst of a congested fixture schedule, with Chelsea the third of five games in 16 days for the club.     Ibrahimovic will return for the second leg of United's Europa League last 16 tie against FC Rostov on Thursday since his three-match ban for elbowing Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings only applies to domestic matches and Mourinho will hope Rashford has overcome his illness by then but the severity of Martial and Rooney's injuries are unclear. United trained on Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning before travelling to London on Sunday afternoon, with a 20-man squad departing from Stockport station. 

 

Rooney is thought to have collided with defender Phil Jones in training and suffered a leg injury in the process. The nature and extent of Martial's problem is not yet known.   Mourinho may now opt to use Marouane Fellaini upfront or Henrik Mkhitaryan as a false nine while Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard could feature. 

 

Ibrahimovic's absence was already a concern for Mourinho but the loss of three other forwards is a cruel blow. Rooney was expected to feature while Rashford - who has mostly been used out wide this season or as an impact substitute - was hopeful of being given a rare run out at centre-forward.

Marouane Fellaini may start at centre-forward for Manchester United at Chelsea.

.The Telegraph