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Van Gaal: Di Maria could make the bench for Aston Villa

by Richard Laverty

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says Angel Di Maria could return to the bench against Aston Villa on Saturday.

The 26-year-old has been out for three weeks since picking up a hamstring injury against Hull City but the manager says the midfielder is ‘close’ to full fitness.

Di Maria was pictured training with his team-mates on Friday morning and appeared to show no signs of the hamstring injury that has affected his first winter programme with the club.

The news is a boost to United supporters hoping to see their star man in action and it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see the Argentine in action on Saturday given van Gaal’s previous words on similar matters.

“Angel has trained this week with us,” confirmed Van Gaal.

“It’s always dependable on how I have to compare with other players because he’s not match fit after one week. What I’ve said about [Robin] van Persie and Falcao, I say also for Di Maria – it is no different.

“It is a procedure and he has to follow the procedure. Maybe I shall select him for the bench, or maybe not. I have to make my decision because we have one session to go.”

Several weeks ago van Gaal mentioned the likes of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones needed more training time before starting games but Rojo went straight into the starting line-up against Southampton and Jones made his return last week against Liverpool.

Whilst it would make sense to take no risks with a muscle injury, especially as United face four games in ten days over Christmas, three of them away from home, they will want their star man to be available and have the largest possible squad available.

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