Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie's hopes of returning for the Manchester Derby have been dashed after Louis van Gaal admitted striker would miss the clashGetty Images

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has ruled out striker Robin van Persie for the crucial derby against Manchester City on 12 April.

The Dutch striker has missed the Red Devils' last five games with an ankle injury he sustained during United's loss against Swansea City at Old Trafford in February.

In his absence the former Bayern Munich manager has moved Wayne Rooney up the pitch and given him an opportunity to play in his preferred lone striker's role. The Englishman has excelled in the role and helped United record convincing victories over top four rivals Tottenham and Liverpool.

But with important clashes coming up with Manchester City and Chelsea in a couple of weeks, the injury absence of Van Persie is a big blow for the 20-times English champions.

The manager had already ruled out the former Arsenal striker for the game against Aston Villa on Saturday, but then revealed that the Dutch forward may not be ready for the crucial Manchester Derby as well.

"I don't think so, [on Van Persie making the Manchester Derby]" Van Gaal said, as quoted by the BBC.

"The process has to give me signals he is ready for that but I know that from my experience it is not like that," the former Netherlands national team manager said.

Meanwhile, Van Gaal has backed his team to finish second in the Premier League behind leaders Chelsea, despite his team yet to face the top three clubs in the league table.

The Dutchman believes that their strong home form can help them when they take on the Etihad Stadium outfit on 12 April and is confident that his team can pip their neighbours to the runners up spot.

"Of course. I cannot deny that because we have Manchester City at home."

"We have the strongest record at home at home so it's possible, but Manchester City is a top team so it shall not be easy," Van Gaal explained.