Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie is unlikely to start against Chelsea despite recovering from his ankle injuryGetty

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hinted that striker Robin van Persie will not start against Chelsea despite recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in February against Swansea City.

The Dutch international has missed the last seven games for the Red Devils with injury, but has returned for their crunch clash against the Premier League title favourites.

Van Gaal is facing a sudden injury crisis ahead of their crucial trip to Stamford Bridge with the likes of Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Daley Blind ruled through injury.

The manager has already confirmed that Wayne Rooney, who was doing so well in his preferred role as central striker in recent games, will be moved back into midfield to fill the void.

This could mean a starting role for the returning Van Persie, who has a good record at Stamford Bridge, since his days with former club Arsenal.

But the manager has hinted that the recovery process is a slow one and that he will take his time to build up full fitness and indicated that Van Persie could be used from the bench initially.

"No. He has to play matches," Van Gaal said, as quoted on ESPNFC.

"When you are injured you don't use your muscles. Then you have to use your muscles, but you have to use them in another way than playing football," the Dutch manager explained.

"Then he has to play matches and exercise with the ball -- that's the difference. Then you have to build up in games, in minutes, in training sessions -- all those kinds of things," he added.

The former Bayern Munich manager is also aware of the fact that his team lack height and in Chelsea they are playing a team that is overall one of the tallest in the league.

The Dutchman is convinced that it will make a difference during the game, especially during set-plays.

"When you see our selection, our height is not tall enough. We have a big deficit in height. When you speak with a basketball coach, for example, one or two centimetres is very important."

"In football, it is the same because when you see the statistic, a third or fourth of all the goals the team is scoring are from set-plays. Then the height is very important," Van Gaal remarked.