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United may pay price for success: Mourinho

Press Association logoPress Association 15/02/2017 Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United will end up "in trouble" if they continue to fight on all fronts.

Thursday's Europa League last-32 first leg against St Etienne kicks off a frantic 11-day period as the second leg in France comes after an FA Cup tie at Blackburn and is followed by the small matter of the EFL Cup final against Southampton.

There will be little let-up if United emerge victorious from that run of matches as more fixtures would leave them with a bloated, uneven schedule.

Mourinho believes balancing domestic and European exertions will stretch his squad and ultimately hamper their chances of success - not that he will allow his side to take their foot off the gas.

"We cannot choose the competitions at Manchester United," the United boss said on the eve of welcoming St Etienne. "We know that our situation is really complicated.

"We know that the Europa League is also a competition where we play on Thursdays and that makes it even more difficult for us.

"The accumulation of FA Cup, League Cup, match postponements is really hard for us.

"If we progress in the competitions, we will be in trouble in April and May. But we cannot choose competitions, so we play them to win.

"I think it's also a good way to give the team experience and international experience is always a plus.

"Europa League is not a competition we want to play, but it's a competition we play and we respect it."

Mourinho is desperate to return United to Europe's top table, but believes Champions League qualification through the league will be harder to secure than for others as cup progress will "create many, many problems".

"We know that it's going to be very difficult," the United boss said, with just four points separating his side and second-placed Manchester City.

Luke Shaw will be hoping to be involved at Ewood Park having been overlooked for Thursday's match, while Phil Jones, out with a foot complaint, will want to face his former club.

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick will not be risked against St Etienne, but Mourinho plans to name a strong side.

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