Jose Mourinho is set to recall Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Manchester United’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at Championship side Bristol City on Wednesday.
The Armenia forward has fallen out of favour in recent weeks and not even made the bench for eight of United’s last nine games.
His absence has led to speculation that he could be allowed to leave Old Trafford in the near future but manager Mourinho insists he remains in his thoughts.
Competition for attacking places is fierce with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all featuring regularly in matchday squads.
Mourinho said: “We need to take the game really seriously but I’m going to make a few changes and it’s possible Miki is involved.
“In this moment we are playing with Mata, Lingard, Rashford or Martial and Lukaku, and the bench has been Ibra and one of the other ones – Martial or Rashford. There is no space for everybody because you need balance on the bench too.”
Mourinho, who has key midfielder Paul Pogba available again after suspension, does not want to make wholesale changes for the trip to Ashton Gate.
The competition, which United won last season, now looks a more realistic route to silverware than the Premier League. United are still second in the table but already trail leaders Manchester City, who are unbeaten and showing no signs of weakness, by 11 points.
Mourinho also views the Robins, who are third in the Championship, as potentially tricky opposition and does not want to take chances.
The Portuguese said: “I’m making a few changes for the match, not many, because Bristol City are one of the best teams in the Championship.
“And for me now, the Championship is not the Championship any more of five, 10 years ago. The Championship is now high-quality teams with lots of high quality players that could be playing in the Premier League easily.”