JOSE MOURINHO spent the international break on a mission to find out what is wrong with misfiring Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian international has had form and fitness problems since returning from the World Cup in Russia.
AFP or licensors5 Romelu Lukaku joined up with his Belgium team-mates but did not play
He has been suffering a bad hangover from his country’s march to the semi-finals — seeming both physically and mentally drained this season.
He has also suffered a slight hamstring problem.
So Manchester United boss Mourinho visited the Belgian camp this week during the international break to see if national boss Roberto Martinez could shed any light.
Mourinho said: “Roberto invited me to meet Lukaku — but I decided not to because I don’t like to disturb people before matches.
Getty – Contributor5 Jose Mourinho jetted to Belgium to try and find out what was wrong with his misfiring striker
PA:Press Association5 Romelu Lukaku has not scored in any of his last 10 matches
"But I was with Roberto on the phone trying to feel, trying to understand the problem and evolution of the problem and of course I like to watch football.”
While Lukaku was not picked in the squad for either game during the break, Martinez wanted Belgium’s record goalscorer to be part of the camp and to assess his fitness.
Lukaku was United’s top scorer last season with 27 goals following a £75million move from Everton.
The 25-year-old has scored five this season but none in his last ten appearances.
AFP or licensors5 Roberto Martinez invited Mourinho to watch Belgium and Lukaku in action
Getty Images – Getty5 The striker is set to start on the bench against Crystal Palace
He is fit enough to play this afternoon at home to Crystal Palace but will be on the bench.
Yet, even without Lukaku from the start today, Mourinho is confident his side can get back in the top four by the end of December.
They are currently eighth, seven points off that group.
Mourinho said: “I know it's a big gap but I also know until the end of December if I'm not wrong we have eight Premier League matches to play, and eight Premier League matches we are speaking about 24 points, 24 points for us to fight for, the other ones in the top four to fight too, but I believe we are going to be there.”
Mourinho wants his players to forget about the derby defeat at the hands of Manchester City last time out and pick up from where they had left off before that.
United had just beaten Juventus and were also on a run of three wins and a draw in the Premier League.