Romelu Lukaku has been warned by Jose Mourinho to forget about enjoying a rest from Manchester United’s campaign, at least until Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a full return to match fitness.
The Belgian international striker has been an inspiration for both club and country so far this season, scoring 14 goals in 11 games for United and Belgium.
But a lack of cover at Old Trafford means that the modern phenomenon of squad rotation will not apply to Lukaku as far as Mourinho is concerned.
“Look, in here, without Zlatan we cannot rotate the striker, especially because Marcus Rashford is playing also in other positions,” said Mourinho.
“So until the moment we have Zlatan we cannot think about giving a rest to our No 9, the same way we give in other positions.
“We cannot do that. Belgium is Roberto’s (Martinez the national head coach) responsibility and it’s his decision to play him or not to play him.”
Lukaku is scheduled to join Martinez’s national squad this weekend for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus.
However, Lukaku’s goals in the last round of games at the start of September saw Belgium become the first European nation to qualify for next summer’s World Cup Finals in Russia and Mourinho is clearly hopeful he may not be required to play complete matches this week.
Not that Mourinho wished to be seen to be issuing Martinez with instructions.
“It’s Roberto’s responsibility,” said Mourinho.
“I cannot, professionally speaking, say do this or do that, you know. It’s Roberto’s responsibility.”