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Press Conference: Luke Shaw returning to training, other good injury news and Everton at home

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal sat down with the media ahead of the Barclays Premier League clash with Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday. The international break has seen a two-week gap between fixtures in the run-in to the season, with United beating Manchester City 1-0 with a goal scored by Marcus Rashford a fortnight ago, a victory which was long overdue at the Etihad Stadium. United are a point outside of the top four, level on points with West Ham United, who have a better goal difference, so there is still something to fight for this season. United and Van Gaal will know that a victory over Everton will be needed in order to keep their chances of a top-four finish likely. Here are the main points from the press conference:

Louis van Gaal confirmed the injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger, which was sustained during the international break, which might make it tough for him to earn a place in the Germany squad for this summer’s European Championships in France:

“Schweinsteiger was injured already before the matches. I think on the second day of training. That’s a big blow for us and also for the national team. 

“You can never say anything about that [missing the rest of the season] because he’s started his rehabilitation. You have to wait and see.

“It is a tragic injury because the expectation is not so good for him in respect of the European Championships, but you never know. I hope that he can reach that, but it shall be difficult.” 

Van Gaal confirmed that Wayne Rooney is back in training and could play for the U21’s before returning to first team action:

“He’s doing great. He trained today at a lower level with the ball and will probably play an Under-21s match before he comes back.”

Van Gaal also gave some more good news on other long-term injuries to Luke Shaw and Ashley Young, and also Ander Herrera, who has been missing for the last two matches:

“Luke Shaw is back on the training pitch on Monday with the physio. Ander Herrera and Ashley Young are coming back. Young and Adnan Januzaj played with the Reserves in a match on the Friday of the international break.”

Van Gaal on the victory over Manchester City nearly a fortnight ago:

“It was the first time that I have gone away with a win! And what kind of win! It was a must-win against our enemy in town, so I think the fans are very happy and I was also very happy.”

Van Gaal on the south stand at Old Trafford being renamed after Sir Bobby Charlton, who the manager also pays tribute to:

“He is on the board and is always backing me. He was my idol when I was young and, now I have met him personally, he is such a kind, friendly man. I am very proud that he should get such an honour and I am very pleased for him.”

Van Gaal on his aims for Manchester United in the run-in to the season:

“Still we are capable of being in the top three in the league at this moment and we believe in that, the players believe in that. We can also win the FA Cup, so we have a lot to fight for. I hope that we show it already in the first match because that is the most important match as you have to continue what you have done against City.”

Van Gaal on Everton, whose away record is better than their home record and how he wants this win for the club:

“Everton have a good away record, better than their home record – it is very strange. When you also see the history of the last matches against them – not my history, but other recent games – it is not so good. Everton are, as an opponent, very difficult for Manchester United, but I hope my record shall continue.”

Manchester United still have everything to play for this season. Their participation in the UEFA Europa League was curtailed by Liverpool, which has allowed the side to put all of their efforts into FA Cup glory, which could be tough, and a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League, which United will need in order to play UEFA Champions League football next season, with or without the Dutchman as manager. Injuries have cost the club, despite the fact many seem to think they have not. Luke Shaw was a big loss just a month into the season, but his injury nightmare seems to be coming to an end with him returning to training next week, albeit with a physio. Wayne Rooney has also trained, and could feature for the U21 side, who face Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday evening, which could see him return to action for the next match in the league, away to Tottenham Hotspur, or a few days later away to West Ham United in their Emirates FA Cup sixth round replay, which is a must win match if United want to take some silverware this season. The Dutchman also confirmed that Ander Herrera and Ashley Young are coming back into the side from injury, with the latter playing in a reserves friendly fixture with Adnan Januzaj during the international break.

United beat Manchester City a fortnight ago, which is something that needs to be carried into the match with Everton, so United can keep their chances of a top-four finish a possibility. United ate a point behind Manchester City, who are currently fourth, so if both City and West Ham drop points, United could be back in the top-four, with a view to ending the season on a high. Everton and Tottenham Hotspur stand in United’s way of that becoming a possibility, both matches will be tough and both will be must win matches. United, in recent months, had not always taken advantage of the teams above them dropping points, that needs to be something that happens, as that is the best chance of gaining some ground and finishing strongly this season. A UEFA Champions League spot should be the minimum United need to be vying for, but am FA Cup final will be something worth aiming for too. Just 90 minutes of normal time separates United from Wembley, albeit a semi-final against Everton, with the winner going through to the final in May. United or West Ham could lift the trophy, it would be fitting for United to end their inability to progress in the FA Cup since 2004, to earn that final place in May. It could also be a match where Luke Shaw returns, which could see him earn an England place for the European Championships in the summer. United have it all to win, and it all to lose.

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