Robin van Persie fitness boost for United
Dutch striker could feature against Sunderland on Sunday after opening day defeat to Swansea
Manchester United’s Robin van Persie could face Sunderland at the weekend. Photograph: Darren Staples / Reuters
Robin van Persie is likely to give Louis van Gaal a much-needed boost by being available for Manchester United’s trip to Sunderland on Sunday, with the striker finally nearing match fitness.
Van Persie is yet to feature for the United manager due to his late return to training following the Netherlands’ third-place finish at the World Cup in Brazil.
The 31-year-old is expected to be selected to face Sunderland if he suffers no setback in training between now and the weekend, though it seems there will be yet more unwanted injury news for Van Gaal regarding Marouane Fellaini, who may have damaged ankle ligaments in training on Monday.
Initial examinations have been inconclusive so Fellaini is expected to have a second set of scans to determine the extent of the damage. Even in the best-case scenario the 26-year-old is a serious doubt for the game at Sunderland, which has taken on increased significance following United’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea City at Old Trafford on Saturday. The injury will be of particular concern as he has twice previously injured ankle ligaments while at Everton’.
If Van Persie is deemed fit Van Gaal will welcome the inclusion of a player who, as a trusted confidante, he made his national captain.
In last season’s injury-truncated campaign Van Persie managed 18 goals under David Moyes, before he scored four in Brazil.
As Van Gaal will continue with his 3-5-2 system despite the reverse to Swansea, during which the 63-year-old was forced to switch to 4-4-2, the manager will hope to pair Van Persie with Wayne Rooney at the Stadium of Light.
Fellaini’s likely unavailability would compound the ill luck United’s manager is experiencing regarding players. Before the Swansea match Van Gaal stated he had nine of his first-team squad ruled out due to injury or match fitness.
Jesse Lingard became the latest player to suffer a problem when he had to be replaced during the first half against Swansea, having started as a wing-back. On Sunday he was pictured on crutches and wearing a protective cast when leaving Manchester’s Bridgewater hospital, but there is hope that Tom Cleverley will be available for Sunday’s trip to the north-east after recovering from a 24-hour bug that caused him to miss Swansea’s visit.
Giuseppe Moratta may have given the green light to United regarding Arturo Vidal after the Juventus president claimed the midfielder has fully recovered from a knee injury.
The Chilean has been nursing the problem since the World Cup when despite not being at less than full fitness he played in the competition. While United have never made any formal contact regarding Vidal it is understood that although Van Gaal may admire the player he has reservations about making a move due to the condition of his knee.
But after having a bespoke training routine during Juventus’s summer tour, Moratta stated Vidal is now fully recovered. “Vidal is fine, he has started training again and his knee is working as normal again,” he said. “He is still available for the team, there is always the same speculation about him. He was never put up for sale and there have never been any negotiations for him. They are the usual media rumours that are apart from reality.”
Thomas Müller claimed he rejected an “astronomical” offer to join United this summer, however the club moved to deny this.
Asked by Bild if United had been close to signing him, Müller said: “Of course. I was aware that I could earn more by making that transfer. The amount that foreign clubs were offering me was astronomical. But Bayern are my club, a change was not an issue for me.”
A United spokesperson told the Guardian: “It is not true that we made offers for either Muller or Reus at any stage.”