Rafael looks to have handed Louis van Gaal a timely fitness boost during the international break, with the defender moving to confirm that he has returned to first-team training for Manchester United.
In an encouraging post on his personal Instagram page, the Brazilian full-back - who also submitted an old picture of himself in action for the Red Devils said: "5 years a go young skinny rafael good memories. Back in training ready to help. Let's goo."
Rafael has yet to feature in a competitive fixture under Van Gaal, with a troublesome groin injury sustained on Manchester United's annual pre-season tour of the United States ruling him out of all four games of the underwhelming 2014/15 campaign to date.
While Rafael gave little indication of just whether or not he would be ready to make his comeback for Sunday's Premier League clash with newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford, just the news that the 24-year-old is back in contention will surely come as a huge relief to Manchester fans given an unconvincing start to the season that has highlighted Van Gaal's chronic lack of defensive quality.
August's capture of versatile Argentine international Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon - in a deal that also saw Nani return to Estádio José Alvalade on a season-long loan - should certainly help the Dutchman in this regard, although Manchester United's lack of fit, consistent and experienced defenders has to be a prevailing concern despite their recent influx of top attacking talent.
Given Rafael's stature, it is unlikely that he would be able to occupy one of the centre-back roles in his new boss' favoured 3-5-2 formation, although one would imagine he is fully capable of challenging Antonio Valencia for the starting berth at right-wing back.
Van Gaal will surely be pleased to have Rafael available for selection once again, though such happiness is likely to be tempered by the fact that Phil Jones sustained an injury while on international duty last night.
The former Blackburn centre-back limped off with 13 minutes remaining of England's impressive 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Switzerland at St. Jakob-Park, with Manchester United reportedly keen set to assess the extent of the injury on his return.
Although Jones has not been at his best in recent weeks, the respective departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left him to assume the mantle as Van Gaal's most senior defender and his absence would be keenly felt.
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