Jesse Lingard
Jesse Lingard looks set to make his first appearance in four weeks against Sheffield United at Old TraffordAFP

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard looks set to make his return from injury during the FA Cup third-round match against Sheffield United on Saturday 9 January.

The 23-year-old has not featured since sustaining a thigh problem in the first half of a 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth in December 2015, missing subsequent Premier League games against Norwich, Stoke, Chelsea and Swansea.

Before being sidelined, Lingard had generally impressed at Old Trafford this season. Making 12 appearances in all competitions, the academy graduate provided a wonderful assist for Wayne Rooney's late header against CSKA Moscow in November before netting his only goal of the campaign so far to highlight an excellent performance against West Brom four days later.

That encouraging form earned him a first senior England call-up for the friendly against France, although Roy Hodgson eventually left him on the bench on a night of considerable emotion at Wembley.

Louis van Gaal revealed prior to last week's nervy win over Swansea that Lingard was close to a return to first-team training. With the player seemingly having suffered no setbacks in the last few days, he should make his comeback for United as they entertain Nigel Adkins' League One play-off hopefuls.

"He (Lingard) has trained fully this week so he is ready," Van Gaal confirmed to MUTV before his latest pre-match press conference.

While Lingard should certainly be fit, however, one player who will definitely not face Sheffield United is Phil Jones. The 23-year-old was replaced by Matteo Darmian at half-time against Swansea after suffering a recurrence of the ankle injury that kept him out for three weeks in November and December 2015.

"Phil Jones is injured and a lot of players are in the red zone," Van Gaal added, utilising one of his trademark phrases that typically denotes when a player is potentially at risk of injury following a busy period of fixtures.

As for Sheffield United, Matt Done is expected to play after returning to training on Thursday morning (7 January) following a hamstring strain. The Blades currently sit eighth in the third tier following a 3-1 defeat at home to Peterborough last weekend, four points adrift of sixth place.