Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw is set to make a surprise return to action on Boxing Day.
The young defender has been out of action since November with an ankle injury but could feature against Newcastle the day after Christmas.
Shaw was a £30 million purchase from Southampton over the summer, but so far he's had a frustrating career at Manchester United having made just seven league appearances to date. Initially there were concerns about his weight but having shaken them off he looked to be showing his best form, only for injury to strike him down in the win against Arsenal.
The England international was spotted in training today which means his return shouldn't be far off, while Angel di Maria is also close to returning. Boss Louis van Gaal confirmed today that the Argentine international is likely to take up a place on the bench against Aston Villa this weekend.
‘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,' the Manchester United manager said.
'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.’
Shaw's imminent return means that Manchester United are close to being back to full strength at the back having seen their backline decimated by injury this term. Marcos Rojo missed the win over Liverpool after picking up a knock in training but is expected to be fit to feature this weekend.
Phil Jones and Jonny Evans played in the 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday, meaning that with Shaw and Rojo close to returning that Chris Smallig is the only absentee - and he's expected back sooner rather than later.