Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United welcome West Brom on Saturday seeking to avoid a third straight Premier League defeat, but may be without captain Wayne Rooney.
Frustrating losses to Chelsea and Everton have hampered United’s attempts to ensure automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League, with Rooney sustaining a knee injury in the clash with his former club.
The England skipper was substituted during the second half of the 3-0 reversal at Goodison Park – compounding United’s misery and leaving Rooney a doubt for the visit of West Brom.
United were afforded the lion’s share of possession at both Stamford Bridge and Goodison but were hit clinically on the counter at both venues.
With Tony Pulis’ men also likely to sit deep in their bid to claim points, United face an examination of their attacking prowess and the absence of their top-scorer would represent a blow.
Radamel Falcao would likely be the man tasked with replacing Rooney, as Robin van Persie and Adnan Januzaj continue to work their way back to full fitness.
Van Persie scored twice in an Under-21 match on Monday, while Januzaj contributed two assists.
“It was pre-planned that he [Van Persie] would just play 80 minutes so it was another step forward from last week,” explained United under-21 boss Warren Joyce.
“It was good for him to score the goals, I thought he led the line well and it was good for the other lads to play with him.”
Following back-to-back defeats against strugglers QPR and Leicester City, West Brom have since taken four points off Crystal Palace and Liverpool.
Saturday’s visitors to Old Trafford have already bettered their 36-point haul from last season and all but ensured their Premier League status for next term thanks to a turnaround in fortunes under Pulis.
Of the bottom nine sides in the division, only Hull City have conceded fewer league goals than West Brom, who may benefit from an additional attacking threat should Callum McManaman return to the starting XI.
The winger has been troubled by a foot injury since joining from Wigan Athletic in January, but team-mate James Morrison is confident McManaman’s substitute appearance against Liverpool is a promising sign.
“Callum is an exciting player and he is learning every week,” Morrison told West Brom’s official website.
“Once we get his fitness up he will be even better. He is eager to impress because he has been hampered with injury since he came in and I am sure he will be looking forward to having a few games now and then will look forward to next season.
“We joke about the fact we haven’t seen him since that FA Cup Final [in 2013, when he impressed for Wigan] so he has got something to prove to show the fans what he is all about.
“He showed glimpses and if he gets his fitness up he will be a bonus for us.”
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