By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Marouane Fellaini is set to be given the nod to start Manchester United’s showdown against Liverpool on Sunday, Football Insider sources understand.
The Belgian, who is United’s fourth-choice central midfielder, is expected to partner Morgan Schneiderlin after Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger were ruled out.
Manager Louis van Gaal revealed on Friday that the experienced midfield pair are injured and not in consideration to play in the Premier League clash at Anfield.
Speaking on Friday afternoon, Van Gaal told MUTV at the Aon Training Complex: “Schweinsteiger is coming back but he needs more time. Carrick is injured and cannot play [against Liverpool].”
It means that the manager will partner anchorman Schneiderlin with the the versatile Fellaini for the landmark trip to Merseyside.
Fellaini has been on the fringes at Old Trafford for most of this season, starting just 10 of the team’s 32 matches to date.
He is most frequently used by Van Gaal as a target man in the attacking third, particularly when United are chasing a second-half goal.
For the Liverpool match, Van Gaal will also be without Phil Jones as well as long-term absentees Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo.
Germany World Cup winner Schweinsteiger will miss his second consecutive match after also being sidelined for Tuesday’s 3-3 thriller at Newcastle.
He suffered a knee injury in the closing stages of United’s 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Sheffield United on Saturday night after a 50-50 tackle with Chris Basham left him sprawled on the deck.
It initially appeared as if Schweinsteiger may have torn a ligament but, after a lengthy spell of treatment, the midfielder waved off the stretcher and finished the match, which was won by an injury-time penalty from Wayne Rooney.