Van Gaal could welcome back Manchester United stars

Date published: Tuesday 1st March 2016 4:13

Anthony Martial: Has welcomed Zlatan Ibrahimovic speculation

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has confirmed Anthony Martial and Matteo Darmian could return against Watford on Wednesday night.

Striker Martial has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury while Darmian hasn’t played since the 2-1 defeat at Sunderland last month after suffering a shoulder injury.

Central defender Chris Smalling, who injured his shoulder during the 3-0 win over Shrewsbury Town, could also feature against the Hornets.

Wayne Rooney is still missing, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw.

Marcos Rojo should be available despite coming off during the 3-2 win over Arsenal after getting a kick on the ankle.

“Players are coming back. It is positive. I think Martial can play, Darmian can play and maybe Smalling. We’ll wait and see. Rojo got a kick. A lot of players receive kicks and they can play the next match,” said Van Gaal.

“(Marouane) Fellaini and (Antonio) Valencia are the first ones to come back, I think, except of course Martial, Smalling and Darmian.

“They are coming back and may be ready tomorrow – it depends on how they feel tomorrow.

“But the chance is there that one of these three players (can) already play, but Fellaini shall come in the last step to the process of team training.

“And also Valencia, for the first time today has trained with the group, so they are coming back. (Wayne) Rooney is still in a brace.”

Martial’s return would raise a welcome selection headache for Van Gaal, given the remarkable manner Marcus Rashford has burst onto the scene.

Thrown into the starting line-up against FC Midtjylland after the French striker felt a hamstring problem before last week’s Europa League tie, the 18-year-old blossomed under the Old Trafford floodlights.

Rashford netted a crucial brace in that 5-1 win and continued his extraordinary start to life in the Untied first-team with another double in Sunday’s 3-2 win against title-chasing Arsenal.

“First, I think that the media have to let him in peace and rest,” Van Gaal said of the teenager.

“When you are in front of his house and that kind of stuff, I don’t think that is beneficial for a boy of 18 years old.

“Give him the time also to be 18 years and we shall guide him also in that way, but he is a very modest guy so I don’t think that shall be the problem

“But of course when you have so much attention of the media, it can go in another way, but I believe that he shall keep his feet on the ground.”

Asked on the advice he has given Rashford and other young players thrust into the spotlight, Van Gaal added: “That is also to keep them out of the press, to say in advance, to help the answers already.

“I give every match my opinion about the match to my players, so I help them to answer your questions.

“But also the elder players shall also guide Marcus Rashford – and I hope to guide you also to say in this press conference maybe it is not so convenient that you are in front of the house of a young boy of 18 years old.

“Too much attention is not always easy to deal with and, of course, it is remarkable and I can understand that you are praising him, but he still has to show his consistency.”

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