Radamel Falcao fighting Marouane Fellaini for start against Sunderland

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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal could be forced to give Radamel Falcao a surprise return to the starting XI this weekend, with the alternative of playing Marouane Fellaini up front one that Red Devils fans will be dreading.

Van Gaal is effectively facing a straight choice between Falcao or Fellaini to partner Wayne Rooney in attack thanks to injury problems for Robin van Persie and James Wilson.

Wilson suffered a dead leg playing for the reserves last night, which when coupled with Van Persie struggling with pain in his right foot means Falcao is a prime candidate for a shock recall against Sunderland on Saturday.

Falcao set to return

The Telegraph reports that unless things improve dramatically over the next 72 hours United will have just two recognised centre-forwards fit for a must-win game against Sunderland.

Rooney will need a partner in attack and despite struggling desperately for top form Falcao could well another chance to prove himself at Old Trafford, one he scarcely deserves but must take in order to have any chance of resurrecting a permanent summer transfer.

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Fellaini also in the frame

Van Gaal could hand Falcao an almighty snub by picking Fellaini to play in his preferred advanced position, which isn't as farfetched as you might think.

Fellaini has used his considerable physical presence to make a major late impact on matches more than once this season, which led Van Gaal to admit recently that the big Belgian is his fifth-choice option in attack.

If Falcao doesn't start he's finished at Old Trafford

If Van Gaal has truly given up on Falcao he could experiment with Fellaini as a centre-forward from the start, although he's on a hiding to nothing trying to explain that selection to the Old Trafford faithful should it materialise.

Falcao must realise that if he's not trusted to start ahead of Fellaini, let alone Van Persie or Wilson, on Saturday then he's got virtually no chance of persuading Van Gaal to sign him this summer.

That suddenly makes Saturday afternoon pivotal in the Colombian international's career, with Van Gaal's team selection and potentially Falcao's subsequent performance against Sunderland if selected under huge scrutiny.

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Marouane Fellaini
Premier League
Robin Van Persie
Manchester United

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