Matteo Darmian is ready to stake his claim for Manchester United’s right-back position in the injury-enforced absence of Antonio Valencia.
Valencia is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after fracturing his right arm, with manager Jose Mourinho confirming on Wednesday that it was a “bad injury” and that the Ecuadorian had undergone “important surgery”.
While naturally disappointed for his Reds colleague, Darmian has been working hard and is determined to fight for his place in the team, having made only his third appearance of the season in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Burnley.
The 26-year-old and fit-again Phil Jones, another potential option to replace Valencia, were both in the United squad that travelled to Istanbul ahead of Thursday’s Europa League tie against Fenerbahce.
Asked at a pre-match press conference if he was frustrated at not playing regularly, Darmian said: “No, because at a club like United there are always top players. Every day I have to fight for my position.
“Of course, I’ve worked a lot in the first part of the season and have to be ready when the manager gives me an opportunity. I work hard to improve myself and I have to be ready and try to win the game.
“I feel sorry for Valencia, for his injury. We wait on his recovery and I hope he’s back as soon as possible.”
Echoing what Marcos Rojo and Marcus Rashford both said earlier in the week, Darmian admitted a tough test awaits United in Thursday’s Group A encounter at Sukru Saracoglu.
“We expect a very difficult game,” the Italian added. “Fenerbahce is a good team with good players, but we want to fight. We are here to win – that’s it.”
Watch an exclusive interview with Darmian in MUTV’s Matchday Live at 17:00 GMT on Thursday.