By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian have given Manchester United a boost ahead of the team’s Premier League clash against Watford on Wednesday.

The trio are in contention to return to the team for the visit of the Hornets following short injury absences.

Martial (hamstring) and Smalling (shoulder) have missed the last two matches, while Darmian (dislocated shoulder) has been absent for four games.

“Players are coming back. It is positive,” manager Louis van Gaal told MUTV. “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. It depends how they feel but the chance is there that one of these three players plays.”

The Dutchman also claimed Marcos Rojo could start Wednesday’s match after being substituted with a knock during the 3-2 win over Arsenal on Sunday.

The return of Martial could present a dilemma for Van Gaal following the sensational start to Marcus Rashford’s United career.

The 18-year-old has scored four goals in two games while deputising for the Frenchman in attack, although Van Gaal could opt to pay Martial in a wide role in order to accommodate Rashford.

In other Manchester United team news, Van Gaal revealed that he won’t throw his players returning from injury in at the deep end.

“Players are coming back in March, I think, but we have to build them up also,” explained the Dutchman. “You have seen how I did it with Marcos Rojo – 20 minutes and then [the plan was for] 60 minutes, though he did not reach that. So it’s not so easy. Playing in the second team is also a possibility.

“[Marouane] Fellaini shall come into the last step of the process, team training, and also [Antonio] Valencia today has trained with the group, so they are coming back. Wayne Rooney is still in a brace.”