Less than 24 hours after reports surfaced from England that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal had received a fitness boost from left-back Luke Shaw, the Dutch boss has informed the media that he will be without the services of the defender; as well as three other teammates for United’s Boxing Day encounter with Newcastle.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Van Gaal confirmed the absences of defenders Shaw and Marcos Rojo; as well as midfielders Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini.
Herrera and Fellaini come as surprises because both players’ omission from the match day squad against Aston Villa this weekend were believed to be short-term.
Herrera had even taken to his Facebook and Instragram accounts to calm the nerves of shell shocked United supporters who have been dealt never-ending injury news since the start of Van Gaal’s tenure at Old Trafford.
During his pre-match press conference, Van Gaal updated fans on the latest additions to United’s staggering injury list. The Dutch boss also shared his thoughts on the busy holiday fixtures which will see United play five games in 15 days over Christmas and New Years.
“For a few players it is fun because they are recovering quickly,” Van Gaal said. “But you also have players who are not recovering so quickly so I am having to rotate.”
“My problem is that I have a lot of injured players. That is the problem of these matches in the coming weeks.”
Asked if any of United’s injured players could return to action on Boxing Day, Van Gaal responded: “I don’t think so. I am sorry. Maybe Smalling. Fellaini is still not available.”
“Smalling is a question mark – I have to look tomorrow but it’s always like that.”
Some positive news for United supporters is midfielder Daley Blind has returned to training.
The midfielder has not played a competitive match since injuring his knee during Holland’s 6-0 win over Latvia last month. But today he took to his Twitter account to confirmed that he had returned to practice with his teammates.
Programming note: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United will be shown LIVE on NBC Sports Network at 10:00am EST on Boxing Day (Friday)
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