Manchester United taking steps to avoid Dan James burnout

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is becoming increasingly worried about summer signing Daniel James suffering from burnout, according to the Sun.

They report that the Manchester United boss is considering offering the winger a rest.

But does he need one? And how might Solskjaer incorporate that into United’s quest to get the team’s season back on track during a notoriously hectic festive period?

Is a rest a good idea?

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As per Transfermarkt, James has played 15 matches across all competitions so far in his debut Old Trafford campaign.

Many might have expected that James would be used sparingly during his maiden top flight campaign, with more experienced heads like Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata deployed on the right instead.

He has also played four times for Wales, as he has become a major player for Ryan Giggs’ side as they seek to qualify for Euro 2020.

That’s a hell of a workload for a man just shy of his 22nd birthday and is a damning indictment of both his club and his country’s current options that he is so heavily relied upon.

James’ game is so heavily based on sprinting and that only raises the prospect of muscle injuries – the type of which have struck down so many United stars under Solskjaer.

If nothing else, he needs to be fresh enough to play his high-tempo game. He’s not a subtle creator who may be able to play within himself and still make an impact at the high level.

So a rest seems sensible if United can keep enough players fit to cope without him. He’s had a big move to deal with, and has played far more than he could reasonably have expected.

Offering him rest would constitute sensible management from Solskjaer.

How can Solskjaer fit in a rest?

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Dropping James out of Europa League action seems an obvious place to start and Solskjaer did exactly that in last night’s 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade.

That competition might have been one James was eyeing up before the campaign started, but he is too important to risk on midweek dead rubbers now.

James started against Chelsea in the EFL Cup last month, but should not be needed to see off Colchester in the quarter-finals. That’s another night off he can pencil in.

Getting that workload down to one match per week should allow James to be at his explosive best more often.

Jamie Vardy is perhaps the best example of that in the Premier League right now. Every week, he is capable of lasting 90 minutes at high tempo because he has enough time to recover.

If United can engineer one game per week for James between now and the Christmas period, it will be better for all concerned.

Securing Europa League progress at the earliest possible juncture should allow James Thursdays off until the new year.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.