Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney and Rafael have returned to training ahead of the derby with Manchester City.
Rooney has missed United’s last two matches, while Rafael was forced off in the first half of the 1-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday.
Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans did not train on Thursday after also sustaining knocks at the Stadium of Light, but remain on track to feature against City at Old Trafford on Monday.
“Wayne and Rafa have started training this morning, which is good news,” Ferguson said.
“Hopefully, they will be fine by Monday. Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic are not there yet but hopefully they will start training maybe (Friday) or Saturday morning. We have a little bit of time on our hands to get most of the troops ready for the game.”
Ferguson responded to criticism of his team selection for the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Chelsea last Monday, a game which United lost 1-0 to end their hopes of a domestic double.
“The way we’ve approached things is the correct way and that’s to win the next game,” he said.
“Hopefully, it takes us to winning the league. It doesn’t matter what people say outside of the club, it’s about what we think inside the club. We’re always looking to do our best. It’s been a good season for us.
“It’s a derby game with a difference from a few years ago. We have to get used to playing Manchester City in big games and that’s the case again.
“The important thing is to win Monday’s game. It’ll be a big game for City. They’ll want to come and derail us for a spell. We’re at home and our consistency is there for all to see. I expect us to perform really well on Monday.”
Ferguson also praised his players for their league form, which has earned them a 15-point gap over City at the top of the table.
“We have to congratulate our players on their consistency – to win 25 out of 30 games is a record and should be applauded,” he said.
“It’s fantastic. But we’ve still got to win the title. We have eight games left and that’s 24 points to play for.”