Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick set to make first-team returnGetty Images/Michael Regan

Manchester United have received a timely boost as injury-hit Michael Carrick has reportedly stepped up his training regimen and is expected to return to first-team action.

The England international has not featured for the Red Devils this season after undergoing an ankle surgery in July. But he returned to training earlier in the month and has now stepped up his fitness programme and also begun ball work.

With Ander Herrera still not available, this news will come as a welcome relief for Louis van Gaal ahead of some crucial fixtures following the international break.

Carrick has been earmarked for a return to the United squad for the game against West Bromwich Albion on October 20.

The Dutch manager is also hoping Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will return to the first team sooner than later, as United struggle to make up defensive numbers.

Jonny Evans is not close to returning, while young defender Paddy McNair is ruled out for three weeks.

Meanwhile, United midfielder Herrera has expressed his delight at playing for United and revealed that he knew the legacy of the club before he arrived. But he understands that he needs to work really hard, if he wants to become one of the key players for the club in the future.

"I always had a lot of respect for United. I knew that it was one of the best clubs in the world and one of the most recognised and most followed – I saw the statistics for that. It's a dream for me to be here but I have to work very hard if I want to be an important player at this great club," Herrera told United's official site.