Shinji Kagawa
Kagawa in line for bigger role at Old Trafford. (Reuters)

Manchester United manager David Moyes could be prepared to hand Shinji Kagawa a more consistent role in his starting XI after the playmaker's performance in his side's 1-0 win over Real Sociedad.

The Japan international made just his fourth start of the season in United's Champions League victory but played an influential role as the hosts created a number of opportunities against their Basque opposition, although it wasn't reflected in the score line.

Kagawa's early omission from Moyes' first team plans had created concern over the 24-year-old's future role with the club, heightened by Wayne Rooney's impressive performances in the number 10 role behind the main striker, the former Dortmund man's favoured position.

But he now has a strong chance of retaining his starting role for the visit of Stoke City this weekend after impressing his boss mid-week.

"I thought it was Shinji's best game in my time here," Moyes told United's official website.

"He hadn't really found his feet yet but I saw something from Shinji tonight which I hadn't seen in other games, so I was really pleased.

"His effort when we didn't have the ball was fantastic. With Shinji, everybody tells me about his ability and what he has got, but tonight is the first time I've really seen Shinji.

"I thought when we put him into the number 10 role, and even after it, he was good with Wayne. His attitude and energy were excellent and I was pleased for him."

Kagawa's influence grew throughout the game as United sought to add to their lead, with Southampton's late equaliser in their most recent Premier League disappointment still fresh in their mind.

The inventive midfielder fashioned a sublime opportunity for Phil Jones with a clever cross only for Sociedad's Raul Bravo to make the save, and should have doubled United's lead himself after being fed by Antonio Valencia, but was unable to get his shot away.