Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed that club-record signing Angel di Maria could be fit enough to return against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, although it will only from the bench.
Di Maria has been sidelined since damaging his hamstring last month, missing three crucial Premier League games including last weekend's 3-0 win over Liverpool.
United have coped just fine without their £59.7 million superstar in December and stretched their winning run to six matches in the process, but his return in any capacity at Villa Park would still provide a huge boost.
Van Gaal provides injury update
In Van Gaal his pre-match press conference ahead of a trip to the Midlands the prospect of Di Maria's return was unsurprisingly a hot topic, but the Dutchman was keen to stress that despite the 26-year-old returning to full training this week he will not be rushed back into the starting XI.
When pressed about the winger Van Gaal told The Mirror: "Di Maria has trained this week with us, but it is also dependable how he compares with other players. "Because he is not match fit.
Expect a cameo role
Van Gaal continued: "I have said the same about Robin van Persie and Falcao, and Di Maria is no different.
"Maybe I shall select him [Di Maria] on the bench or maybe not. I have to make my decision but we have one more training session so we shall see."
It looks like Di Maria will have to be patient as he presses for the quickest return to action possible, although with a hectic run of festive fixtures ahead he shouldn't be too disappointed if left out against Villa.
United play Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City in the space of six days over the Christmas period, which should give Di Maria ample opportunity to get back and find form heading into 2015.