The four stars were absent as the 12-time FA Cup winners progressed into the next round on Monday.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire, and Phil Jones all missed Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa because of muscular problems.
Interim manager Ralf Rangnick confirmed the four players’ status before the third-round FA Cup match, but he refused to label them as ‘injured’.
The 63-year-old German also played down Ronaldo’s problem as ‘minor’, insisting he decided to play it safe on Monday by resting his star forward.
What did Rangnick say?
“They are having problems. I wouldn’t say that they are injured, but they have muscular problems,” Rangnick told MUTV before kick-off.
On Ronaldo’s absence, the coach added: “I spoke with Cristiano yesterday [Sunday] before training, he told me that he’s had some problems for the last couple of days. Minor problems, but in the end, we decided that it made more sense to not take any risks in a game that could easily last 120 minutes, so we just decided to rest him, not play him at all.”
Rangnick hopes to have Ronaldo back for United’s second game against Aston Villa this week on Saturday in the Premier League, after his side set up a fourth-round meeting in the FA Cup with Middlesbrough for February 5.
Steven Gerrard’s men will be out for revenge after Scott McTominay’s eighth-minute header handed them a 1-0 defeat in Monday’s FA Cup clash.