Antonio Valencia set for Manchester United return

 

Antonio Valencia returned to Manchester United's squad for tomorrow's Europa League encounter with Athletic Bilbao - but Anderson, Nani and Phil Jones were absent from the flight to Spain.

It has been reported that Anderson is set to miss the remainder of the campaign with a hamstring injury, although as yet, there has been no official confirmation from the Old Trafford outfit.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Nani had sat out Sunday's Premier League win over West Brom with "bruising" suffered during a training-ground knock, but the United boss pointedly avoided responding to an inquiry about the reason for Anderson's absence.

With Nani currently missing, the return of Valencia is good news.

The Ecuador wide-man was in impressive form until he suffered a hamstring injury in Amsterdam four weeks ago.

As United have since assumed top spot in the Premier League, Ferguson is keen to have as many men as possible available for the run-in.

The Red Devils' 20-man travelling squad included teenager Paul Pogba, surely a further sign that the young French midfielder is ready to spurn the offer of a lucrative contract from Juventus.

Paul Scholes was there too, although whether the veteran starts tomorrow is open to debate given United are 3-2 down after the home leg and face a tricky trip to relegation-threatened Wolves, who were bottom of the table when they beat Ferguson's men at Molineux last season.

Under the circumstances, there are plenty who think tomorrow's tie is one worth sacrificing, although Ashley Young is not one of them, even if United have never recovered from a home first-leg deficit in a European knockout game.

"It is unusual that we find ourselves in this position but there is a great team spirit here and everyone is full of confidence," said the winger.

"Our form in general makes us believe we can score wherever we play.

"Our attacking play has been fantastic of late and we believe we can score the two goals we need."

On the two occasions they have attempted a comeback away from Old Trafford, against Bayern Munich in 2001 and AC Milan four years later, they have lost the away leg as well.

Indeed, it is a measure of the task United are facing that it is five seasons since they overturned a first leg deficit on home soil.

That 7-1 annihilation of Roma has gone down in Red Devils folklore and victory tomorrow will achieve similar status.

"Our focus has not changed from the start of the season," said Young.

"We want to win every competition we enter and the Europa League is no different.

"Bilbao were an impressive team last week. They were a very attacking team, had a good team shape and at times we found them hard to break down.

"But I am sure if we are on our game 100% we can go there and get the win we need."

As Ferguson noted last week, winning is one thing, doing it by two goals quite another.

That is what United are likely to need though given the high-scoring nature of the first-leg, when Wayne Rooney scored twice, part of his overall 26-goal tally.

Not that Young has done too badly lately, bagging an impressive double in the win at Tottenham, then winning the penalty Rooney converted against West Brom at the weekend.

"It is nice to be contributing," he said.

"As a winger you are there to get assists and goals and that is what I have been doing.

"Fingers crossed it can continue and we can keep winning."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links