Manchester United have received a massive injury boost after Antonio Valencia made a successful comeback from an ankle injury when he played 45 minutes for the Red Devils U21 side against Liverpool's U21 on Friday (11 March). The winger, who has been training for a couple of weeks, could be in contention for a place in the squad for their second leg Europa League clash against the Reds on Thursday (17 March).
The game between the two rivals in the U21 Premier League came just a day after the senior teams clashed in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 when the Merseyside club triumphed 2-0 but the clash between the second string ended 1-1. The result helped the young Red Devils to return to the summit of the league table, although they are level on points with Sunderland but have a game in hand over the Black Cats.
The Ecuador international has been sidelined for around five months after he damaged his ankle ligaments during the Manchester Derby in October 2015. He underwent surgery and his return will be a big boost for Louis van Gaal, who has had trouble naming a consistent back four due to constant injuries during the course of the season.
The 30-year-old full-back could return to the squad for their clash against the Reds and relieve Guillermo Varela, who has been deputising for him and Matteo Darmian, who has also faced a number of absences due to injury in recent months. Marcos Rojo has also returned to full fitness, giving the Dutchman an experienced back line along with Daly Blind and Chris Smalling going into the final months of the season, as they compete in three competitions.
Meanwhile, the 20-times English champions face the prospect of finishing outside the top four in the Premier League for the second time in three seasons and are also facing a possible exit in the Europa League after they lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg. They face West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday (13 March), which could represent their last hope for silverware this season.