By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Luke Shaw will make his long-awaited return to training for Manchester United next week, according to Louis van Gaal.
The left-back, 20, has been sidelined since suffering a double-leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League in September.
Football Insider revealed early last month that Shaw was set to return to training after the international break in a bid to play again for United this season.
Manager Van Gaal has now confirmed that the England international is close to regaining full fitness.
“Luke Shaw will be back on the training pitch on Monday with the physio,” Van Gaal said on Friday afternoon at his media conference, as quoted by the Mirror.
It is likely to be a few more weeks before Shaw will be in contention for a first-team return but the increase in his training load is hugely encouraging for a player regarded as integral at both club and international level.
The injury was initially regarded as so severe that United internally ruled the England starout of playing again this season but Louis van Gaal showed faith in Shaw’s powers of recovery by including his name in the squad’s Europa League roster.
England manager Roy Hodgson left the door open for Shaw to return to the national team in a recent series of interviews when he hinted that there could still be a place for the former Southampton man at Euro 2016.
The latest Manchester United injury news is that Hodgson wants Shaw to prove his fitness before 12 May.
“Yeah, absolutely [the door is open]. All that remains is for him to get fit enough to be selected,” said Hodgson last month.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 1, 2016
“Luke Shaw’s a player we believe in, we think is an excellent talent. We think he will be a major competitor with the other left-backs for a place in the squad.”
Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand and Tottenham’s Danny Rose were the two left-backs named in Hodgson’s squad for the recent friendlies against Germany and Holland, although the former pulled out with an injury and Rose ended up starting both matches.