Louis van Gaal
Louis van GaalGetty

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal can finally breathe easy as the Red Devils injury crisis is easing up as the report suggests several first-team players are set to return over the weekend.

According to the Mirror, various United players have returned to training during the international break and are close to making a comeback with the first-team.

Ander Herrera has made an earlier than expected return, following reports that he could be out for up to a month after he suffered an injury to his rib during the game against West Ham United.

The Spaniard could be in line for a return against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend or van Gaal could decide to give him extra rest in order to keep him fresh for the visit of Chelsea the following weekend.

Midfielder Michael Carrick, who has not featured for the Old Trafford club this season after suffering an ankle injury in July, is sure to find a place on the bench after coming through unscathed in a behind-closed-doors game earlier in the week.

The biggest boost will be the return of defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, as both have returned to first-team training.

Jones was out for longer after suffering a hamstring injury on international duty, while Smalling had hip and thigh problems.

United face a host of crucial fixtures following the international break, as the next three weeks see them facing title favourites Chelsea and Manchester City.

Meanwhile, former Red Devils right-back Gary Neville believes the matches against the Blues and the Cityzens will exactly show where United stand for the rest of the season.

"It's going to be an important few weeks but exciting as well. We'll find out in the next few weeks as the West Brom, Chelsea and City games are all massive ones that I'm going to be at and my thought is we'll find out exactly where the team is at this season," Neville said, as quoted in the Mirror.

"We've not really played anybody really strong yet. I know Everton at home could be classed as being a tough game but, in terms of really tough matches, Chelsea and City will provide a real measure of where this team is at," the former United defender added.