Louis Van Gaal can see the light at the end of the tunnel as players return from injuries ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Stoke City on New Year’s Day. Trailing Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League, Van Gaal believes that his team will perform better as the injury crisis lifts at Old Trafford.

Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Van Gaal confirmed that his players are slowly returning from injuries but that they are still far from being match-fit.

“There are players coming back, we have seen the first signs of that in the last two games with Rafael, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw.”

“They don’t have any match rhythm and that’s my problem, it’s the case with a few players. We played three or four games in the space of a week, so we need these players now more than ever.”

“It’s now difficult for me to select the team.”

Manager Van Gaal claimed that despite the several injuries suffered at Old Trafford, his team is getting better with time.

“I think everyone can see that we are improving every week in spite of a lot of injuries, and that’s because of the philosophy.”

“I think the players understand the philosophy, and that’s why we are improving – but we can improve more when we have all the players available.”

With Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Rafael returning from injuries, Van Gaal will have the option to mend their ‘broken’ back-four which has been highly unstable this season. Van Gaal will also have more options in the midfield with both Januzaj and Ander Herrera returning from injuries.

“Herrera trained today for the first time with us. Januzaj has also trained two training sessions with us, but he was ill and you have to recover from your illness, not from your tiredness. Maybe it’s worse to recover from illness.”

However Manchester United remain without the services of their star summer signing Angel Di Maria who picked up a fresh injury during training. Di Maria was instrumental in United’s success since his big money move from Real Madrid but the Argentine has not been able to sustain his form following a string of injuries.

Along with Di Maria, new signings Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo too remain on the sidelines due to injuries. While Blind is going to take time to recover from his injury, Rojo can be expected to make a come-back soon.

Meanwhile Antonio Valencia has also succumbed to an injury while playing against Tottenham Hotspurs and will be unavailable for the clash against Stoke City. Belgian international Marouane Fellaini too is injured after suffering a fracture rib and will miss the clash on New Year’s Day.