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

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine