• Experienced duo appear on course for first-team returns after travelling to the Middle East on Monday.
  • Right-back Valencia has missed six matches with a hamstring injury sustained at West Brom in December.
  • Heart problems have limited captain Carrick to just one senior appearance to date in 2017-18.

Manchester United right-back Antonio Valencia appears to remain on course for an imminent first-team return after being included in Jose Mourinho's party for a January trip to Dubai, while Michael Carrick will also continue to regain his match fitness overseas.

Having finally reached a stage of brief respite after a hectic festive schedule that included five matches in a two-week span, the Red Devils are taking advantage of a 10-day gap between Friday's (5 January) FA Cup third-round win over Championship promotion hopefuls Derby County and the next Premier League fixture against managerless Stoke City at Old Trafford on 15 January, by flying out to the Middle East for a warm weather training camp.

While United have yet to confirm exactly who has made the trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), several players - including the likes of David De Gea, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Kieran O'Hara - were pictured arriving at Manchester Airport on Monday morning.

Also spotted were experienced duo Valencia and Carrick, neither of whom featured in that 2-0 home victory over Derby secured courtesy of late goals from Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku.

Valencia has not featured for United since the nervy victory at West Bromwich Albion on 17 December, when he limped off with a hamstring issue after 66 minutes. Club captain Carrick, meanwhile, has been restricted to just one appearance to date in 2017-18 - against Burton Albion in the third round of the Carabao Cup - due to an irregular heart rhythm that required a cardiac ablation.

Mourinho confirmed last week that Carrick was now back in training, while he also claimed that Valencia should be ready to face relegation-threatened Stoke after missing six games in total. The duo's inclusion in the squad for Dubai would surely suggest that they are still on track with regards to their respective recoveries.

According to the Manchester Evening News (MEN), United's two remaining injury absentees - Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly - are unlikely to have travelled and second-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero was not spotted by photographers, which is presumably the reason for the inclusion of Under-23 custodian O'Hara.

Romero, who started against Derby but has failed to play any league football this term, is not currently thought to be injured and it was reported last week that the 30-year-old wanted to leave the club during the current transfer window in order to secure his place as Argentina's number one ahead of the World Cup in Russia.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has travelled after a half-time substitution on Friday that Mourinho admitted was unfair and amid speculation over his future, while Lukaku and Matteo Darmian were believed to have flown out over the weekend.

"We need to recover but at the same time we also need to train because during this crazy time we have not had many times to work on details that you want to work on," the manager said of United's first return to Dubai since 2014.

"It's been more about the recovery from the match and the travelling and the preparations for the next one without time to work. If we can have time to have a good, nice week to recover some injured players and tired players and, at the same time, work on some tactical details I think it would be good for the second part of the season."

Michael Carrick
Captain Michael Carrick has flown to Dubai with the majority of Manchester United's first-team squad Getty