David Moyes is hopeful that Robin van Persie will be fit to return to action when Manchester United host Stoke City on Saturday. The striker was absent from the United squad that beat Real Sociedad 1-0 in the Champions League in midweek after exacerbating minor injuries while on international duty with the Netherlands earlier this month. But Moyes is confident that the rest will have done Van Persie good.
“Robin, I hope, will be fit for the weekend,” Moyes said after Wednesday’s win, according to the club’s official website. “He’s had a couple of niggling injuries even before they went on international duty and they have all just caught up on him a little bit. I felt if I could get the chance to give him a breather a little bit I would do. Fortunately for us it worked out fine.”
United face Stoke in desperate need of a victory following last weekend’s draw at home to Southampton that left them with just three wins from Moyes’ first eight Premier League games in charge. While the side kept a clean sheet against Sociedad, there were again defensive frailties in the absence of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Both veteran defenders, though, are expected to return from injury on Saturday.
Ferdinand tweeted on Thursday about his joy at returning to training. Jonny Evans and Phil Jones have started the last two games together and at least one looks likely to drop out. However, neither Vidic nor Ferdinand were in the greatest form before their respective injuries.
Also due to return against Stoke are Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. Cleverley, out for three matches with a calf injury, will likely compete with Marouane Fellaini and Ryan Giggs, who again rolled back the years in a rare start against Sociedad, to partner Michael Carrick in the center of midfield.
Welbeck, out for just one game with a minor knock suffered against Southampton, may find it equally difficult to earn a place in the side. After two fine performances by teenager Adnan Januzaj in the left-sided role Welbeck has often operated from, Shinji Kagawa was equally impressive in his best display of the season against Sociedad.
Update (Oct. 25 1.30 p.m.): David Moyes revealed in his pre-match press conference that he does not expect to have Danny Welbeck or Tom Cleverley available against Stoke.