Louis van Gaal revealed David De Gea could return this week to ease Manchester United’s injury crisis after their routine win at Shrewsbury.
United cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory at Greenhous Meadow on Monday that booked a home tie with West Ham.
Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard scored to avoid an upset as Van Gaal picked a squad without 13 first-team players.
Wayne Rooney is sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury while Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo remain out, and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Will Keane limped off in Shropshire.
De Gea suffered a knee injury in the warm up ahead of United’s 2-1 Europa League defeat to FC Midtjylland but Van Gaal hopes to have him back for the return tie on Thursday, or for Sunday’s visit of Arsenal.
“It was not so heavy the injury, so it is possible for Thursday but it is also possible against Arsenal,” he said.
“It (the Midtjylland match) in my opinion is a big game because it’s a chance to qualify for the Champions League next season. But we have to win a lot of matches of course, it’s easily spoken about but doing it is different.
“But it is possible and then we’ll see. I think in March a lot of players are coming back and then we’ll have a full selection, and with our full selection we were first in the Premier League.”
Defeat would have been a hammer blow to Van Gaal but he knows they were expected to win in Shropshire.
He added: “Everybody shall say it is against Shrewsbury Town and Manchester United has to win but we have seen very difficult results in the FA Cup, not always the top team is winning. So I think we have done it fantastically.”
However, much was made of their controversial second goal, with Van Gaal admitting afterwards it was a tactic he copied from Midtjylland in their Europa League clash last week.
— Man United In Pidgin (@ManUtdInPidgin) February 22, 2016
Shrewsbury came close at the end but Abu Ogogo wasted two fine openings while they struggled to match United.
They face a relegation battle in Sky Bet League One and go to rivals Colchester on Saturday, but boss Micky Mellon was proud of his side.
“At half-time we were a wee bit disappointed but it’s hard to be critical because you’re playing against some unbelievable quality,” he said.
“I’m not going to take anything away from my players, you have to put your hand up and say they were outrageous at times. That’s what that kind of money buys you.
“We’ll be disappointed when we have seen the opportunities back that we haven’t scored.
“I’m determined I’m not going to be critical of the players because we came up against some fantastic quality. The players can walk away with their heads held high because they gave us everything they had.”