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Carrick to start final Manchester United match against Watford

michael carrick - cropped Manchester United captain Michael Carrick (R) (source: Getty Images)

Michael Carrick will start against Watford on Sunday in what will be his final match for Manchester United, manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed.

The 36-year-old will retire at the end of the season before taking up a role in the club’s coaching team.

Mourinho plans to give the midfielder a fitting send-off at Old Trafford, but is thrilled to be keeping him as part of his staff.

“He will start the last match,” Mourinho told a news conference on Wednesday. “Old Trafford, last match of the Premier League [season], our captain in front of our fans, he will start the match against Watford.

“The most important quality is to be a man, capitals, a proper man and football is not full of them and not just football, society is not full of them. 

“So, when you find one of them, you have to value [them] and you have to keep [them] and in this case it is not about me, it is about the club. The club had from him many great years playing football and now, when his body says ‘enough’, the club and myself will want to keep the man. 

“Of course, he has qualities that we believe can make him a good coach and there are many ways to do the bridge between player and coaching staff. Some guys prefer to have a couple of years to study or go to youth football.

“In this case we decided the bridge could be that bridge, to change shirts and dressing rooms and offices and to stop being a player and become an assistant.

“I give my assistants very good conditions for their evolution and I think Michael can be very positive for us.”

Before hosting Watford, United visit West Ham on Thursday, knowing a point will be enough to guarantee second place in the table assuming Tottenham beat Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Mourinho criticised the attitude of his players after the shock 1-0 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, but he has been impressed with their response in training.

“They all work well,” he said. “Even in weeks that had bad performances or bad results, I never have anything negative to say about the professionalism of my players during the season. This week was not different.”

Mourinho confirmed Marouane Fellaini will miss the game at London Stadium with a muscular problem, although Phil Jones and Alexis Sanchez are fit to return.

Romelu Lukaku, though, is still in a battle to be available for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 19.

“In terms of injuries, Lukaku and Fellaini are the two players that are not available [for West Ham],” he said. “Apart from that, Jones is back, Sanchez is back and no more problems.

When asked if Lukaku will be back for the Wembley showdown, Mourinho replied: “We try.”

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