Manchester United are likely to welcome Antonio Valencia back into their squad for the Europa League last-16 first leg with Liverpool at Anfield.
Valencia has been unable to play since October due to an ankle injury, but manager Louis van Gaal confirmed he should make the substitutes’ bench for Thursday’s clash with Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Van Gaal also revealed that midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was getting closer to recovering from a knee problem which has kept him out for two months, but suggested the Liverpool game has come too soon despite the Germany captain’s return to training.
“Valencia is coming back and Schweinsteiger is coming back – I think a lot of players shall come back in month of March,” Van Gaal told his pre-match media conference on Wednesday.
“When they come back it’s not so easy to decide if they can cope with the rhythm of the matches though.
“Bastian has had only one training session with us, Valencia has had a week – he is closer to being on the bench for example but not to play a match, that’s different.
“Valencia is fit enough to be on the bench, but to play 90 minutes? I don’t think so.
“They are fit to train but, for example, Schweinsteiger only has one training session behind his back.”
United’s first ever European tie against rivals Liverpool will be a huge occasion, but Van Gaal insisted he would not refrain from selecting some of his younger players if he deemed it necessary.
“You don’t have to forget that I shall always make the line-up the strongest I can for the opponent,” he added.
“Nevertheless, I sometimes put youngsters in the line-up, but I think it is the best solution.”
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