Jose Mourinho reserved praise for Marcos Rojo after the defender made a successful return from injury in Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League defeat to Basel on Wednesday night.
The Argentinian made his first appearance for the Reds since sustaining knee ligament damage in the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht at Old Trafford on 20 April.
Rojo, who was an unused substitute in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Newcastle, played the full game alongside Chris Smalling at the heart of the United defence and put in a composed display, despite the Reds losing to Michael Lang’s late goal in Switzerland.
The United boss shared that sentiment when asked about the defender’s comeback in his post-match press conference at St. Jakob-Park.
He said: “[Marcos] Rojo played very well. I think he could be playing a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t need to rush him, push him into that situation, but he was training with the team for quite a long time.
“He had 45 minutes with the Under-23s team [last week in the Premier League International Cup tie against Athletic Club]. We knew Marcos was ready, the doubt was 90 minutes and lasting 90 minutes. But [in the] first half [it was] very easy. He had a lot of the ball, he didn’t have to be physically demanding.”
Rojo made a crucial block to deny Dimitri Oberlin and even came close to scoring when his long-range deflected strike thundered back off the crossbar just before half-time.
Mourinho was particularly pleased with Rojo’s progress, given that the injured Phil Jones is likely to also miss Saturday’s Premier League game against Brighton at Old Trafford.
“He controlled his game very well so I’m really happy. We need that with no Jones. We need Marcos back to give us the stability,” he added.