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12th Dec, 2016 | 12:58pm

Carragher: This is how Mourinho has handled Manchester United 27-year-old after awful display

By Will Butcher

Jamie Carragher has applauded Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho for his handling of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit claimed Mkhitaryan was “awful” in the Manchester derby defeat suffered by United early in the season.

But, speaking after United’s 1-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday, Carragher claimed that the former Chelsea boss deserves credit for how the 27-year-old has returned to the United side in phenomenal form.

“He’s new to the Premier League,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “He was awful in his first game against Manchester City where he was brought off and he then had injury problems and couldn’t get in the team.

“But if you look at it over the last four games you can say he’s actually handled him very well.

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“He’s scored two goals and two assists in the last four games and maybe now the time has come to say Mourinho has handled him well.”

Mkhitaryan scored the winner against Spurs on the weekend, after being played through by Spaniard Ander Herrera.

The summer signing blasted the ball into the roof of the net past Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris, just three days after scoring his first United goal against Ukranian side Zorya in the Europa League.

Former Borussia Dortmund star Mkhitaryan had been frozen out by Mourinho earlier this season despite a £26million move to Old Trafford in the summer.

Featuring just six times before late November, Mkhitaryan has returned to the side to make the same amount of appearances in just three weeks.

Two goals and two assists has seen him inspire Mourinho’s side to four wins and two draws in his last six league and cup games.

However, the Armenia international is set to miss United’s next two games after picking up an ankle injury following a challenge from Danny Rose. He is set to return on Boxing Day.

Mkhitaryan is likely to be sorely missed as he has been a key figure in United’s improved recent form, which has lifted them to within three points of fifth-placed Tottenham.

In other Manchester United news, Jamie Redknapp has made a huge claim on where United would be in the Premier League table had they started Mkhitaryan earlier.