Manchester United's recent injury woes could hand Marouane Fellaini a rare start when the Red Devils take on Watford in a lunchtime kickoff at Vicarage Road on Saturday (21 November). The Belgian midfielder has fallen down the pecking order and has struggled to get regular game time this season.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the former Everton star could be handed a starting role due to the injuries suffered by Anthony Martial, who suffered a foot injury during France's 2-0 loss to England, and Michael Carrick, who is expected to miss at least two weeks after twisting his ankle during the Three Lions' 2-0 loss to Spain in Alicante during the international break.
The 27-year-old midfielder, who was suspended for the first three Premier League games of the season owing to a red card in the final game of last season, has made just six appearances in the league thus far this campaign, completing the full 90 minutes on just one occasion when he played as a centre-forward against Liverpool on 12 September. Since then, Fellaini has played just 91 minutes of league football, and will be hoping to capitalise in the absence of the injured duo.
Louis van Gaal, however, has now indicated that the Belgian international, who is returning from injury, will have to compete for a place in the midfield rather than as a striker, which he was initially touted for earlier in the season. This will make it harder for Fellaini, as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin are ahead of him in the pecking order at the club.
"When I put him on as a striker, he is only a striker in Plan B, not Plan A. He has played as a striker once, against Liverpool, but that was because I had a problem [with injuries] and that is why I made him the striker from the beginning. However, that is not normal. He has to compete as a midfielder because he is more a midfielder than a striker," Van Gaal told United's official site in early November.