Jose Mourinho is likely to be without Chris Smalling and Phil Jones for a crucial Manchester derby on Thursday night.

It is understood that Smalling has a knee issue while Jones is likely to miss out due to a foot injury. However, the manager says that both these issues are rather minor and that the players should learn to play through the pain barrier in order to succeed. This is not the first time Mourinho has criticised one of his players at United. Earlier in the campaign, he lambasted Smalling and Luke Shaw for showing a lack of commitment. Back then, Smalling had suffered a similar injury and was out for more than a month.

The pressure on Mourinho is intense at the moment even after an unbeaten league run since October. Since the 4-0 loss against Chelsea, Manchester United have not suffered a defeat in the league. Yet, they have not been able to occupy the top four for long periods of the campaign.

Finishing outside the top four will be disastrous to the club’s immediate and long-term objectives with regard to signing players and many other factors. United have received a major boost with Liverpool’s 2-1 loss against Crystal Palace. United will be able to make into the top four if they win the two games in hand over Liverpool, but one of them is against City.

“Of course they [Smalling and Jones] have [a future]. I hope this season.It’s not just about them. It’s about the philosophy and mentality around them. Cautious. Cautious. Cautious. Just a cautious approach.It’s a profile, it’s the philosophy of work. Just that. I think the fact that we are fighting for important things still is a good motivation to keep people together, to make people make an extra effort,” said Mourinho.