Ander Herrera has been criticised by Paul Ince for being too weak
Red alert: Ander Herrera is set to return to the team after five-match absence

First published: 17 March, 2016, 3:31 PM

By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Ander Herrera is not in Manchester United’s squad to face Liverpool on Thursday night, Football Insider sources understand.

The first-team regular was a surprise omission from the 18-man party that gathered at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester on Thursday morning.

Herrera was widely expected to be in the starting X1 for the Europa League second-leg clash as United attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg at Anfield last Thursday.

The Spaniard, who has been a regular starter in recent months, even appeared alongside Louis van Gaal for his media conference on Wednesday afternoon.

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The absence of Herrera means Antonio Valencia has been promoted to the matchday 18 even though Van Gaal claimed on Wednesday that he was not ready to return.

Marouane Fellaini, who has been the subject of fierce recent criticism from supporters, is set to partner Michael Carrick in central midfield.

United squad to face Liverpool: De Gea, Romero; Valencia, Darmian, Varela, Smalling, Williams, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Fellaini, Carrick, Lingard, Mata, Memphis; Martial, Rashford