PREVIEW By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney is set to return to the Manchester United squad for Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham.
The United skipper emerged unscathed after an hour for the Under-21s on Monday night and is expected to be in the matchday 18 for the last-ever cup tie at Upton Park.
Louis van Gaal has made no attempt to hide his admiration for Rooney, but it would be a surprise if the forward was fast-tracked into the starting X1 after a two-month absence with knee ligament damage.
That will not guarantee Marcus Rashford keeping his place in the starting X1 for what would be a remarkable 11th consecutive match.
The 18-year-old was hauled off at half-time in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham as Van Gaal made clear his displeasure at the teenager veering from his central station too often.
Ashley Young was the shock choice for 20 minutes to take on the centre-forward role at White Hart Lane, but, even for a manager of Van Gaal’s capacity for springing formation surprises, it is unlikely the experiment will be repeated on Wednesday night.
Anthony Martial, comfortably the team’s main goal threat, should be given the chance of continue where he left off at Spurs and spearhead the attack.
The places of all the central and attacking midfielders are under threat after their limp displays against Tottenham, which could mean recalls for Young and Ander Herrera, who has been ignored in recent matches.
With West Ham such a threat in aerial battles, including man-of-the-moment Andy Carroll, Marouane Fellaini could be recalled to play fire with fire in both penalty boxes.
The combination of natural anchormen Schneiderlin and Carrick has not always been a successful one this season, which might mean Fellaini slotting into central midfield.
In defence, Matteo Darmian could be recalled to the team at right-back if Timothy Fosu-Mensah, one of the few players to emerge from the chastening Spurs defeat with credit, misses out through the injury he suffered at the weekend.
Manchester United (possible) De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Fellaini; Mata, Herrera, Young; Martial