Manchester United will be without Angel di Maria for this evening’s Premier League fixture against Stoke City at Old Trafford, but in-form captain Wayne Rooney is fit to play and should start in attack.
The 29-year-old, who has scored in each of his two previous appearances for the Red Devils, injured his ankle in the closing stages of Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hull City after colliding with the advertising hoardings. But, fortunately for United boss Louis van Gaal, the injury wasn’t as serious as initially feared.
Rooney is expected to start in attack alongside either Robin van Persie, who scored his first Premier League goal since late October at the weekend, or Radamel Falcao.
Falcao set for start
The world-class Colombian came on for the final 21 minutes against the Tigers and almost netted his second goal for the Red Devils since completing a season-long loan move from AS Monaco in the summer.
Falcao last started for Manchester United in early October, before missing four Premier League fixtures with a calf injury. But he’s now back and hungry to prove a point following speculation that Van Gaal may opt against turning his loan move into a permanent deal at the end of the season.
Rafael returns to training
Another boost for Van Gaal on the injury front is the news that first-choice right-back Rafael has returned to training following a six-week lay-off. However, tonight’s match comes a little too soon for the Brazilian, who should be ready to make an appearance against Southampton next Monday.
The likes of Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Daley Blind all remain sidelined with various injury problems, while Jonny Evans will not feature despite playing for Manchester United’s Under-21 side last night. The Northern Ireland international is now closer to completing his rehabilitation from an ankle injury.
Herrera could also start
Van Gaal may opt to rest Michael Carrick following his fine display against Hull, which could mean an overdue start for £29 million summer signing Ander Herrera, who was fantastic after replacing Di Maria at the weekend.
The back-four comprised of Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young should remain the same, while Juan Mata should also retain his place in the starting line-up.
Adnan Januzaj may also come into the fold. Manchester United’s number 11 was an unused substitute against both Arsenal and Hull, but may get another chance to impress Van Gaal against the Potters.
Manchester United: Predicted XI v Stoke City - CLICK HERE.
Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City.
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