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Jose Mourinho will select Antonio Valencia's games carefully - sources

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Gauging Man United's progress this season (4:10)

The FC crew assess whether Manchester United have actually improved or are benefiting from a favourable run of fixtures. (4:10)

Manchester United are prepared to be cautious with Antonio Valencia's workload this season as Jose Mourinho anticipates another long campaign, sources have told ESPN FC.

Valencia, 32, has established himself as the first-choice right-back at Old Trafford since Mourinho's arrival as manager in 2016, and has started seven of United's 11 games so far this season.

However, the United boss is planning to pick and choose Valencia's games carefully this season in a bid to stop the Ecuador international from burning out.

Valencia made 43 appearances last term as United lifted both the League Cup and the Europa League, but by the end of the campaign he was being used sparingly by Mourinho and started just four of the final 10 games.

It was in line with a plan put together by both the coaching and medical staff to make sure Valencia was fit to start the Europa League final against Ajax on May 24, having kicked-off his season against Leicester in the Community Shield on Aug. 7 -- 291 days earlier.

It came after the club's data analysts, who monitor players during training session and games, became concerned that Valencia's statistics were dropping during a gruelling campaign that eventually spanned to 64 games.

Despite playing regularly this season he has already been rested for midweek Champions League clashes with Basel and CSKA Moscow, as well as the Carabao Cup third-round tie with Burton Albion, with Matteo Darmian or Ashley Young stepping in at right-back.

The issue with Valencia is exacerbated by his continued involvement with the Ecuador national team.

They face World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Argentina during the international break.

After playing Argentina in Quito on Tuesday, Valencia will make the 9,000 km journey back to Manchester ahead of the trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday in a 12.30 p.m. kickoff.