Louis van Gaal has confirmed that striker Anthony Martial and defender Matteo Darmian are fit for Manchester United’s clash against Watford at Old Trafford on Wednesday, while centre-back Chris Smalling will face a late fitness test.
The French international was withdrawn from the starting lineup during the second leg Europa League tie against Midtjylland due to a hamstring injury. The versatile full-back had a dislocated shoulder during United’s 2-1 defeat to Sunderland, while Smalling picked up an injury after colliding with the advertising board in Red Devils’ FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town.
“Players are coming back in March, I think. We need players who are coming back because our programme is very full. Martial can play and also Darmian can play. Maybe Chris Smalling can play. We have to wait and see for tomorrow,” Van Gaal told MUTV.
With Martial returning from injury, it should be seen whether he will make his way into the starting lineup or whether Van Gaal will continue with Marcus Rashford, who has scored four goals in last two matches.
Should the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager continue with Rashford as the main striker, Martial can be deployed on the right wing in place of Jesse Lingard.
United’s current injury list is still includes star striker Wayne Rooney, midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marouane Fellaini, defenders Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw. Marcos Rojo, who returned from injury in the Europa League tie was withdrawn in United’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal.
Van Gaal has provided more update on the timeline for the possible return of a few of these injured players.
“[Marouane] Fellaini and [Antonio] Valencia are the first ones to come back, I think. Except, of course, Martial and Smalling and Darmian – they are coming back, maybe already tomorrow. It depends how they feel tomorrow, but the chance is there that one of these three players already plays,” the Dutchman explained.
“Fellaini shall come into the last step of the process of team training, and also Valencia today has trained with the group, so they are coming back. Wayne Rooney is still in a brace.”