Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal will have Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial back available for Wednesday’s Champions League encounter with PSV Eindhoven, but admitted that the continued absence of Luke Shaw has been a major blow. United suffered a night to forget on their return to the Champions League group phase in September, when not only going down to a 2-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven but losing Shaw to a horrific leg injury after a clash with Mexican defender Héctor Moreno.
“I think the first match was very disappointing,” Van Gaal said in his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s return at Old Trafford, reports the club’s official website. “Not only because of the result but also because of the loss of Luke Shaw -- for me and for us he is a very important player. I said in advance already that he would be the revelation of this season.”
Van Gaal revealed that Shaw, who has recently been given four days off from his rehab, will have a scan on Friday to assess the progress of his recovery. The left-back is far from the only fitness concern affecting United as they look to seal a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a victory on Wednesday. The United boss confirmed that Shaw is just one of five absentees, with Ander Herrera and Phil Jones having joined the casualty list during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Watford.
But there is some more positive news, with Rooney, Martial and Marouane Fellaini, who all missed out against Watford, now fit to take part against PSV. That will provide a significant boost to Van Gaal’s forward options, which were significantly limited at the weekend, leaving Memphis Depay to occupy the central striker role.
The Dutch starlet made an encouraging start to life at Old Trafford after his summer mover from PSV, including scoring against his former club. But he struggled to replicate that early success and his appearance against Watford was his first start in more than six weeks. Still, having marked it with a goal, teammate David de Gea is among those backing the 21-year-old to start finding his feet.
“He has had a tough few weeks and I’m sure he’ll soon be back at the top of his game,” De Gea told MUTV. “He’s going to bring a lot to the team and I’m sure he’ll be really up for playing against his old club.”
Manchester United go into Wednesday’s encounter a point clear of both PSV and Wolfsburg at the top of Group B, with CSKA Moscow a further two points back. While a win would see United through to the last 16, anything else would leave the Premier League giants facing an anxious trip to Wolfsburg for the final round of fixtures in two weeks’ time.
For PSV the opportunity remains very much alive to seal a place in the knockout phase for the first time in nine seasons. The Dutch champions have endured a tough start to the campaign, having lost not only last season’s top scorer Memphis over the summer but also captain Georginio Wijnaldum to Newcastle United and Netherlands international left-back Jetro Willems to long-term injury. After the high of beating Manchester United, Phillip Cocu’s team suffered successive away defeats to CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg. But their form has picked up of late, including getting a crucial win in the return match with Wolfsburg three weeks ago.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EST
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, ESPN Deportes