Rafael da Silva
Rafael to return to training on Friday. Getty

Manchester United full back Rafael da Silva will return to training on Friday wearing a protective mask after undergoing surgery.

The Brazilian right back suffered a fractured cheek bone in Sunday's FA Cup third round victory over Yeovil Town and was substituted at half time.

But the 24-year-old has announced through his Instagram account that he will return to training at the end of the week, writing: "Operation was perfect back training normal on Friday very happy. Thanks God for everything."

United host Southampton on Sunday but it remains to be seen whether Rafael will be considered for the visit of Ronald Koeman's side.

Louis van Gaal has been reluctant this season to immediately throw players back into the first team following injury, but given the right back's swift return to training he may be in contention, particularly given the dearth of options in his position.

Antonio Valencia, who has frequently filled in at right back this season, is still struggling with a groin problem suffered in the 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur while Ashley Young is facing up to six weeks out after suffering a hamstring injury against Stoke City on New Year's Day.

Paddy McNair was chosen to deputise for Rafael in the second half of the 2-0 win over Yeovil and will be in contention to start there again on Sunday.

Sunday was Rafael's first start for United since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on 26 October. The defender had been back in training since December and has made appearances off the bench in United's last three games prior to Sunday against Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City.

Luke Shaw was also taken off at the weekend amid fears he had suffered a recurrence of an ankle problem that ruled him out for almost all of December but recent reports suggest he could also be in contention to return.