by Richard Laverty

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick was all smiles in training on Sunday as the first-team prepared for Monday’s FA Cup crunch match against Arsenal.

Carrick made a brief return to the team on Wednesday night against Newcastle as he was brought on to see out the match and protect United’s defence seconds before Ashley Young gave them a late lead.

The midfielder hadn’t played since 23 January in the first game against Cambridge United in the fourth round and could make his first start back in the sixth round against the Gunners.

News of Carrick’s injury at the time was a blow given his form and importance to the team since his return from a lengthy injury in November that had kept him out of the side ever since Louis van Gaal‘s arrival in the summer.

Carrick slotted into a back three as the new manager persisted with an unpopular 3-5-2 system before retaking his spot in the midfield.

Ander Herrera‘s re-emergence in the side causes a problem for Carrick, particularly given the Spaniard was recently named the club’s player of the month for February, but if Van Gaal really believes Carrick is key to his team, Herrera could be relegated back to the bench.

But if United play with wingers once again on Monday, Carrick, Herrera and Blind could all team up in a midfield three but fans would also like to see Angel Di Maria return to his preferred position in the middle.

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