Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits that he fears his side will have to negotiate major fixture congestion later in the season if they successfully pursue the Europa League.
Mourinho has indicated he will resist the temptation to prioritise other competitions over the Europa League, which resumes on Thursday evening when United meet Saint-Etienne in the first leg of the last 32.
But he conceded that doing so could hamper his team’s domestic ambitions, particularly if they also continue to progress in the FA Cup.
“We know our situation is really complicated. With the accumulation of FA Cup, League Cup and matches postponed it is really hard for us,” he said.
“If you progress in the competitions, we will be in trouble in April and May. But we cannot choose competitions so we play to win.”
Reaching the later stages of the Europa League threatens to reduce United’s rest time before big Premier League fixtures.
The quarter-finals take place either side of a trip to Chelsea on 15 April, while the semi-final legs are directly before away games at Arsenal and Tottenham in early May.
United’s march to the EFL Cup final this month has already necessitated postponing one league match, a trip to Manchester City, which will need to be accommodated later in the season.
League games at Southampton, on 12 March, and Burnley, on 22 April, would also need to be rescheduled should United reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup. They visit Blackburn in the fifth round on Sunday.
Midfielder Michael Carrick and forward Wayne Rooney have been rested for the home leg against Saint-Etienne, who could field Florentin Pogba, elder brother of United’s £89m record signing Paul Pogba.