Jose Mourinho says Alexis Sanchez has to play against San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday as the Manchester United manager grapples with his limited attacking options in the build-up to the new Premier League season.
An undermanned United kicked off their pre-season tour with a 1-1 draw against Mexican giants America in the absence of star forwards Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on Thursday, with Juan Mata on the scoresheet.
Lukaku and Rashford are on holiday following the World Cup, while Sanchez is set to finally join his team-mates in the United States in the coming hours after being granted a visa to enter the country.
Despite his belated arrival, manager Mourinho plans to use the 29-year-old against the Earthquakes in California, with United beginning their domestic campaign at home to Leicester City in just three weeks' time.
"I don't even know if he is flying, if he is in Los Angeles or if he is in Manchester – I have no idea about it. There will be no Lukaku or Rashford, for sure, and we have to try with what we have," said Mourinho, who suggested Antonio Valencia will become the team's permanent captain this season.
"It's not about if he can play, it's about when he has to. When [Anthony] Martial left the pitch, it was Mata [leading the attack]. When Mata went to the sides, it was a kid that trained with us for the first time this pre-season [Mason Greenwood].
"There's no Lukaku or Rashford here and probably not even for the start of the Premier League, so it's about when Alexis lands and when he lands, he has to play because he trained with us for five days before we departed to Los Angeles and we left one fitness coach behind with him to keep training with him. Of course, it's individual training but when he arrives, he has to play."
Mata salvaged a draw with America in sweltering conditions in Phoenix, where the Red Devils looked to be facing defeat.
A bullet header from Henry Martin saw United fall behind just shy of the hour mark before Mata hammered home an equaliser with 12 minutes remaining.
The Spain playmaker had hit the post in the first half before eventually getting on the scoresheet, burying the rebound after Ander Herrera hit the woodwork from a cross from highly rated youngster Tahith Chong.
"It was a good training session for us and I think they start their league this week, so they were at a more advanced stage than us. I think both teams fought for a result," Mourinho added.
"It was a friendly, the result was not the most important thing, but I think the players fought for the result. I think in the first half we were the best team and had the best chances. In the second half, they were stronger than us and scored the goal, then without the only striker we have here [Anthony Martial] we had to try to go for it. The players showed their intentions."
|A golden boy, a guy you want to love - Delecroix pays emotional tribute to Sala|
|Richardson, Patterson to make Australia debuts against Sri Lanka|
|Police resume search for missing Sala plane|
|Pouille upsets Raonic to reach Australian Open semis|
|Dunk sees Stars past Strikers|
|How Serena gave up 5-1 lead – the key moments of loss to Pliskova|
|Pliskova enjoys ´best comeback´ after stunning Serena|
|Serena not blaming ankle injury for Australian Open loss|
|Mavericks capitalise on Clippers´ turnovers, pick up win in Smith´s return|
|Pliskova saves four match points to stun Serena with comeback win|
|Anthony ´can only make´ a team better, says Iverson|
|Henry more worried about Monaco´s future than his own|
|Osaka powers past Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Harden on Anthony trade: It kind of sucks that it didn´t work out|
|Redskins remain ´optimistic´ QB Alex Smith will play again|
|Patriots coach Belichick says Rams´ Donald is ´pretty much unblockable´|
|PSG fined €100,000 by LFP over player-recruitment practices|
|I´m not his father - Guardiola demands Mendy matures|
|Sykes record in vain as Banvit claim victory|
|Usain Bolt calls time on football career|
|Otamendi not happy at Man City, says Guardiola|
|Workaholic Woods learning to rest as he prepares for 2019 debut|
|Henry´s Monaco dumped out of Coupe de France|
|Qatar can win Asian Cup, says Sanchez|
|Tim Howard to retire following 2019 MLS season|
|Koscielny backs Bellerin to return from injury ´stronger than before´|
|Chiefs fire DC Bob Sutton after AFC Championship loss to Patriots|
|Reyes returns to Spain with second-tier strugglers Extremadura|
|Emiliano Sala: Profile of Cardiff City striker missing after joining from Nantes|
|Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut|
|Nuno fined over pitch celebration in Leicester win|
|Nadal unfazed by another Next Gen opponent in Tsitsipas|
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|