Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has said that none of his injured players will be making a comeback for the Boxing Day fixture against Newcastle United, but believes that defender Chris Smalling might recover on time to play on Friday.
The 25-year-old had suffered an injury during their 2-1 win over Southampton earlier this month and had since then been side lined for the Reds’ fixtures against Liverpool and Aston Villa, but the Dutchman hopes he’ll be fit to take on the Magpies.
Midfielder Ander Herrera is still out with a muscle injury, while Marouane Fellaini will also be unavailable due to an illness.
The Red Devils have also been without the services of Luke Shaw this month, and will once again have to take the field without the Englishman. Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind have also been ruled out.
With back to back fixtures in a tightly packed Christmas schedule, Van Gaal feels the growing injury list at Old Trafford has made matters difficult to handle, but he insists that some of the players are recovering quickly, though not in time to face the Toons.
“I don’t think so, I am sorry. Maybe Smalling. Fellaini is still not available”, the Dutch manager was quoted as saying via Manchester United’s official website, when asked if any player was making a return.
“Smalling is a question mark – I have to look tomorrow but it’s always like that.
“For a few players it [this period] is fun because they are recovering quickly, but you also have players who are not recovering so quickly, so I have to rotate. My problem is I have a lot of injured players. That is the problem with these matches in the coming weeks”, the 63-year-old added.
While United have their mounting injury crisis to deal with, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will also be without midfielder Cheick Tiote, who faces a suspension for being booked during the weekends 1-0 defeat to Sunderland.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul will also be out with an ankle injury and Rob Elliot (thigh), Mehdi Abeid (toe), Siem de Jong (thigh), Rolando Aarons (hamstring) and Gabriel Obertan (thigh) will all be unavailable, as the side face an uphill task of ending Manchester United’s seven-match unbeaten run and get back to winning ways themselves.
Manchester United’s possible starting line-up: David De Gea, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Rafael, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young , Michael Carrick, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie
Newcastle United’s possible starting line-up : Jak Alnwick, Daryl Janmaat, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Paul Dummett, Mike Williamson, Jack Colback, Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez