Robin van Persie could be set to put a smile back on the faces of gloomy Manchester United supporters this weekend, with reports suggesting that he is edging very close to match fitness ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Sunderland.
This information comes courtesy of The Guardian, who report that the striker is expected to be selected to play at the Stadium of Light, providing he suffers no unexpected setbacks between now and the match.
Van Persie return
The return of Van Persie will presumably be a very welcome sight indeed for the majority of Manchester United supporters, most of whom are still smarting from the opening day defeat to Swansea City at Old Trafford last week.
While the Reds' sub-standard defensive showing was the primary cause of that particular loss, the addition of another truly world-class striker like Van Persie - who is likely to partner Wayne Rooney against the Black Cats - will surely provide them with a greater chance of success against another supposedly inferior opponent.
World Cup exploits
Van Persie's last competitive fixture came for the Netherlands at this summer's World Cup, with the 31-year-old scoring a third-minute penalty as Van Gaal's Oranje cruised to an impressive 3-0 victory over hosts Brazil that ensured they finished in third place.
The former Arsenal and Feyenoord marksman - who scored a total of four goals at the tournament - was understandably given an extended break after his tiring international exploits, meaning he was not considered for action for his compatriot's first game in charge in English football.
Watch: The latest Manchester United transfer news
Fixtures against Sunderland, MK Dons and Burnley aside, Manchester United face a crucial end to the month of August.
With the transfer window due to close in a little over a week's time, Van Gaal - and particularly executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward - must continue to add to the current squad if the club are to have any hope of returning to the top four and title contention this season.
Versatile Argentine defender Marco Rojo officially joined Manchester United on Tuesday in a deal that saw disappointing winger Nani return to Sporting Lisbon, although the club are still in need of further defensive reinforcements and also remain desperate for a midfield enforcer.