Louis van Gaal has revealed that both Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw are back in training and could make a surprise return to action in Manchester United's weekend trip to Aston Villa.
Di Maria has not played for United since the end of November after he picked up a hamstring tear in the 3-0 win over Hull but the Argentinian has returned to this week and stands a chance of being included in the matchday squad.
However, Van Gaal did stress that Di Maria may have to wait and regain his match sharpness before he can return to the first-team squad, much like Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie have done.
Manchester United injury list
Manchester United injury list
1/5 Wayne Rooney
There is uncertainty over the extent of the Manchester United captain's injury, with fears he may have suffered ligament damage to his knee during the 3-0 defeat to Everton. Unlikely to feature against West Brom and could miss the rest of the season.
2/5 Michael Carrick
Having limped off in the 4-2 derby victory over Manchester City, it's uncertain if the England midfielder will fit for this weekend. Was unable to even make the bench for the defeat to Everton.
The right-back's return to action has suffered a set-back. After making a short appearance in the 3-0 win over Tottenham in March, the Brazilian has been pushing for full fitness. However he suffered a blow to the ribs in an Under-21 match against Leicester and could miss the rest of the season.
4/5 Marcos Rojo
Having missed the games against Chelsea and Everton due to a groin injury, the Argentina international is pushing for a return and could feature this weekend.
5/5 Phil Jones
Fellow defender Phil Jones also missed the defeats to Chelsea and Evertton but the England international has returned to training after a foot complaint and could play at against West Brom.
Speaking at his Friday press conference, Van Gaal said: “Angel di Maria has trained this week with us so it’s always dependable how I have to compare with other players because he is not match fit after one week.
“What I’ve said about Robin van Persie and Falcao I also say about Di Maria. It’s a procedure and he has to follow it. Maybe I shall select him for the bench and maybe not. We have one training session to go.”
While van Persie has returned to play a prominent role in United’s six-match winning streak, Falcao has remained on the substitutes’ bench and has scored just one goal in 11 matches this season. Van Gaal was quick to stress that this was solely down to the Colombian’s fitness levels, and admitted that he is in the mix to start Saturday’s encounter against a struggling Villa side.
“He didn't play so much and then you cannot see too much of a player,” Van Gaal continued. “And he didn't train so much because he was injured a lot of the time so first you have to be fit.
“I have said that three weeks or a month ago, the first demand is fitness of a player. And OK, we wait for the fitness of a player. Now he shows fitness in the training sessions so maybe I shall select him, maybe for the bench or the line-up. Wait and see.”
The return of Michael Carrick appears to have helped United’s struggling defence, given that the English midfielder has started every one of their six victories in recent weeks. Rather astonishingly, Van Gaal revealed that he has been speaking to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson about the recent results, and while the Scot feels the players are doing well given it’s the result that matters, Van Gaal still wants them to up their performances.
"I have spoken with Sir Alex Ferguson," said Van Gaal. "He says there is not a problem. We have won. But for me it is also about the performance. If we perform well shall win more matches. That is what I want.Reuse content