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United defender set for speedy recovery

Antonio Valencia could make his return from injury quicker than had been anticipated.

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Manchester United v Manchester City - EFL Cup Fourth Round Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Antonio Valencia seemed set for a reasonably lengthy spell on the sidelines after he underwent surgery on a wrist injury sustained in the EFL Cup victory over Manchester City late last month, though reports are now suggesting that he could be back quicker than had been anticipated. According to the Telegraph’s James Ducker, the Ecuadorian international “is progressing more quickly than expected,” though is still unlikely to make it back for this weekend’s clash with Arsenal.

He's one of seven senior players who could reportedly miss the game: Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Zlatan Ibrahimović are all certainly out, while Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, and Luke Shaw could join them on the sidelines. Though it’s not quite an injury crisis, José Mourinho’s selection will certainly be somewhat forced.

It’ll be interesting to see who ends up starting on the right side of United’s defence in the continued absence of Valencia, with Ashley Young having been favoured in the win over Swansea City before the international break. A little more defensive solidity would probably be provided by shifting Matteo Darmian onto the other side of the field, and playing either Daley Blind or Marcos Rojo on the left. Expect a selection that is more conservative than ambitious.