Manchester United have received yet another boost on the injury front with reports suggesting Luke Shaw has recovered from the ankle knock he suffered during the game against Arsenal.

According to the Mirror, the left-back, who has been out for a month is close to returning to first-team training and could be ready to make his return against Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

Shaw damaged ankle ligaments and was set to be out for a longer period of time, but has made a timely recovery ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year period fixtures. Ashley Young has covered well in the absence of the English defender, and is most likely set to continue in his role, when United face Aston Villa on Saturday in the Premier League.

Louis van Gaal will be pleased to hear this news, as the Red Devils have been struggling with some major injury worries to defenders in recent months.

However, the Dutchman's worries are slowly easing ahead of the busy festive period, with Phil Jones making a return against Liverpool last week. Apart from the Englishman, reports claim that Argentina internationals Angel di Maria and Marcos Rojo have recovered from the knocks they sustained and could be in the squad that travels to Villa Park on Saturday.

Meanwhile, United midfielder Michael Carrick has heaped praise on the character of Antonio Valencia, who has made the right-back position his own in the absence of Rafael, who has just returned to first-team training.

"Antonio is a pure athlete. He is immense. It is the work he does that doesn't get noticed, things like carrying the ball up the pitch for 30 or 40 yards when you have been defending," Carrick told United's official site.

"He takes you up the pitch and defenders just back up because they know about his pace. If he can go down the line, then he is pretty hard to catch. He is a great team player and, when you are playing with him, you certainly appreciate that he is on your team," the Englishman added.