Manchester United star Juan Mata has praised the professionalism of teammate Radamel Falcao and believes it is only a matter of time before the striker gets his opportunity in the first team again.

Falcao, 28, has scored just once since his deadline day loan move to Old Trafford and has not started a game since October, struggling with a calf injury.

Having returned to training at the end of November, the Colombian international has been reduced to fleeting cameo appearances off the bench and admitted on Wednesday he may have to 'analyse the situation' should his fortunes not change.

But his teammate Mata, who struck his fifth goal of the season against Liverpool on Sunday, insists the striker remains more focused than ever on impressing on the training pitch.

"He is training very well and he is waiting for his opportunity like the great professional he is, like the great teammate he is," Mata told United's official website.

"It makes me happy that he played (against Liverpool, where he replaced Rooney after 78 minutes) and it will make me even happier if he can score because he has been playing well in training."

United have the option to make their loan move for Falcao permanent for a reported fee of £43m with the player claiming earlier in the season he wishes to remain at the club for "many years".

While Robin van Persie's resurgent form, Falcao faces a battle to secure a starting role but insists he is ready for whenever his team needs him.

"Whenever I have the opportunity to come on, I try do my best for the coach and I try to help the team.

"Every footballer wants to play, no one is happy when they are not playing, when they are on the bench, but whenever I am given the opportunity, whether it be for five, 10, 20 or 90 minutes, I have to give my best."