• Premier League

Di Maria in contention for United return

ESPN staff
December 19, 2014
Angel Di Maria has missed the last three matches for Manchester United © Getty Images

Angel Di Maria is closing on a return for Manchester United and could be on the bench for Saturday's game at Aston Villa, while Radamel Falcao could be granted his first start in more than two months.

Di Maria, Britain's record signing, has missed United's last three games with a hamstring injury he sustained in the 3-0 win over Hull.

But manager Louis van Gaal has confirmed that the £59.7 million winger is back in contention as he debates whether to change a team that has won its last six fixtures.

He said in a news conference: "He has trained this week with us but he's not match-fit after one week. Maybe I shall select him for the bench, or maybe not. I have to make my decision because we have one training [session] to go."

Falcao has been on the bench for United's last four games after overcoming a calf problem but has not begun a match since the 2-1 win over Everton in October, when he scored his only goal since joining on loan from Monaco.

Van Gaal added: "He has shown fitness in the training sessions. Maybe I shall select him for the bench, maybe for the line-up."

James Wilson was preferred to Falcao for Sunday's 3-0 win over Liverpool, when the Colombian forward came off the bench.

Meanwhile, left-back Luke Shaw is returning to fitness after straining ankle ligaments in the 2-1 win over Arsenal in November, although he will not be involved at Villa Park on Saturday.

The teenager tweeted: "Working hard on my recovery every day. I will be back stronger. Can't wait to get on the pitch again."

In Shaw's absence, Ashley Young has deputised effectively as a left-back or left wing-back.

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