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Manchester United Advance In Europa League

Jose Mourinho is praying he does not have to pile on the air miles in the last 16 of the Europa League when the draw is made in Switzerland on Friday.

Manchester United comfortably made the next round with a 1-0 win in France against Saint-Etienne to complete a 4-0 aggregate success.

Already in the hat for the draw ahead of the next set of matches in the last 16 with the Reds are Russian side Krasnodar and Germans Schalke.

Potentially clubs from the Ukraine, Israel, Greece and Romania could be United’s next opponents presenting a logistical nightmare.

Asked if he has a preference who he wants in the next round Mourinho said,

“Not really. I am used to difficult draws. Sometimes I think some balls are cold and some balls are hot!

“But first of all I cannot choose and secondly now 16 teams, strong teams some of them coming from the Champions League. If I could choose I would choose not to travel a lot because we have Chelsea in between two matches and Middlesbrough away after the second match.

“So if you give me something like Krasnodar or some very far destiny I would prefer a two hour flight. I prefer something close.”

It was a night of mixed emotions for Mourinho. Happy that United are through to the last 16, but unhappy that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick might both miss the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Mkhitaryan, who scored the only goal as Manchester United beat St Etienne 1-0 in the Europa League on Wednesday night, was forced off in the first half with a hamstring injury. Carrick went off after half-time with a calf injury.

Both are set for scans in Manchester on Thursday.

Mourinho stopped short of ruling the pair out of United’s League Cup with Southampton at Wembley this weekend. But the 54-year-old admitted they may run out of time to prove their fitness.

He said: “It is the result of so many matches. When somebody is missing, it’s an opportunity for another one.

“Obviously, they are important players for us and not to have them for the final is complicated. But I think Marouane (Fellaini) and Bastian (Schweinsteiger), who have not played so much, did a good answer. When one is not playing it is an opportunity for another.

“I don’t say (they are definitely out). I just say what I feel. It’s three days. With a hamstring and a calf, even if it is a minor injury, I probably think that three days is no time.

“I think no chance.”