Manchester United supporters were in for some pleasant shock come Monday morning as fan-favourite Bastian Schweinsteiger remarkably made a return to training with the first team for the first time this season

Former Germany captain Schweinsteiger had been infamously exiled from the first team squad by Jose Mourinho in the pre-season – a move which didn’t go down well with the legions of Manchester United fans all around the world.

When asked about the exclusion back in August, Mourinho had been coy on Schweinsteiger’s chances of first team football, saying: “I think it’s very difficult to happen. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it’s very difficult.” Since then, the midfielder has been mired in controversies, having been banished from the reserve team dressing room and made to train on his own.

Manchester United’s dismal run in the Premier League continued last week as they were held to a goalless draw by Burnley at Old Trafford on Saturday, but the first training pictures coming from the Manchester United social media accounts on Monday morning offered the Red Devils fans something to cheer about.

Indicating that the tide might be turning in the 2014 World Cup winner’s favour, Schweinsteiger was seen being put through his paces alongside Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini and other United first team regulars.

United’s next match sees them make a trip to Turkey for a Europa League group game against Fenerbahce, but with Schweinsteiger excluded from the squad in the tournament he isn’t making an immediate return to the match day squad. But many feel that the return to Carrington with the first team is a step in the right direction for the midfielder.

United signed Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich for a reported £14.4 million and he has made 31 appearances for the club so far, the last of which came against Manchester City in a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium back in March. And a former teammate of Schweinsteiger’s, Michael Ballack, expressed his support on his return to training, tweeting: “Where you should be.”

Meanwhile, Monday morning also marked a return to first-team training for the injury-ridden Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Phil Jones, two returns that sent a sigh of relief among United fans. Group A table toppers face Fenerbahce on Thursday night as they aim to get closer to the knockout stages in Europa League.

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