Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is nearing a first-team return and should be fit to face West Brom after the international break.
According to the Daily Star, the 33-year-old United star is recovering well from ankle surgery and should be ready to go when the squad links back up following the international calendar.
Carrick has been a big miss for United, who struggled in the early part of the season in midfield. The additions of Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera were welcome, although the Spaniard has struggled with injuries since his arrival.
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But Carrick, primarily a holding midfielder, will bring cover for a United defence that has been under assault this season. The inexperience of Tyler Blackett married to unconvincing performances from starters like Jonny Evans have put United on the back foot and contributed to their poor start.
Carrick has been injured since before Van Gaal took over as United boss after he led the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup.
At his first press conference in charge, van Gaal admitted that the loss of Carrick was a 'big blow' because of the English international's experience.
In his absence, the likes of Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley stepped in, although the results were poor and van Gaal moved swiftly to bring in quality before the close of the summer deadline.
Those deals for Marco Rojo, Herrera, Di Maria and the rest have done the trick, as United recorded consecutive victories for the first time with the 2-1 win over Everton at Old Trafford.
Next up for United is West Brom at the Hawthorns. The Baggies have been hit and miss this season, but they did chalk up a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane so United can expect a test.
It could also mark Carrick's return.
"I think, after the international break, he [Carrick] can maybe play some minutes but we have to wait and see," van Gaal said. "He is doing well, better than we had expected."
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