Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera
Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera have not been selected for international duty this week Michael Steele/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has provided a positive update on Manchester United's injured crop ahead of the latest international break, while the Portuguese also plans to give Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera a well-deserved rest before the next Premier League fixture at home to Newcastle United on 18 November.

The Red Devils had been without five key first-team players for several weeks before Marouane Fellaini made his return from a knee injury sustained on international duty with Belgium during Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.

He had only begun training again fully the day before that frenetic clash at Stamford Bridge and Mourinho later described the 28-minute cameo in which he was denied an equaliser by Thibaut Courtois as "fantastic".

Marcos Rojo and re-signed striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic have both been sidelined since undergoing surgery on significant knee ligament damage suffered in the same match against Anderlecht in April.

Influential midfielder Paul Pogba, meanwhile, has now missed 12 matches across all competitions since limping out of September's Champions League defeat of FC Basel with a hamstring injury described as being long-term.

"We have the group of players which are the ones that we hope will recover as soon as possible," Mourinho told MUTV after a disappointing afternoon at his former stomping ground in west London.

"They have to work every day but they are in a good position now. Pogba, Ibra, Rojo, Fellaini. They are in good positions so I think we can go into this part of the season, the Christmas period, and after, in a strong position."

There was no reference to captain Michael Carrick, whose outing against Championship minnows Burton Albion on 20 September was his only one of the 2017-18 campaign to date. The 36-year-old is believed to have been nursing a calf issue, although The Sun reported last week that he felt light-headed and sick after that Carabao Cup third-round victory and that club doctors had been left baffled by a mystery illness.

While a large percentage of United's non-injured players will get no rest over the next fortnight as they join up with their international teammates, Smalling and Herrera will both be given opportunities to recharge their batteries having been omitted by England and Spain respectively.

Centre-back Smalling has played every minute of all seven games across all competitions since the last international break, while midfield favourite Herrera started six and appeared as a second-half substitute in last week's win over Benfica.

"The international break means the majority of the players fly now from London to their countries," Mourinho added. "They all disappear and then we have a couple who aren't selected for their national team, like Smalling and Herrera and they really deserve, after so many matches, to have a week off which I'm going to give them."