Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial are in line to make returns for Manchester United against Watford, Louis van Gaal has confirmed. Both players missed United's Europa League second-leg victory over FC Midtjylland as well as Sunday's thrilling 3-2 win over Arsenal due to minor injury problems.
Smalling suffered a shoulder issue after crashing into an advertising board in the 3-0 FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town on 22 February, while Martial was a late withdrawal from the team that cruised to a 5-1 win over the Danish champions three days later.
United have been battered by injuries in recent weeks, but Van Gaal now feels the club are over the worst of it.
"Players are coming back. It is positive," Van Gaal told a press conference. "I think Martial can play, [Matteo] Darmian can play and maybe Smalling – we'll wait and see for tomorrow." Darmian appears the most likely of the trio to return, after suffering a shoulder injury in the 2-1 defeat to Sunderland.
Marcos Rojo, meanwhile, made his first starting appearance of the year on Sunday against the Gunners but was withdrawn in the second-half after suffering a knock and was replaced by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
The Argentine is expected to start against Watford on Wednesday though, with Van Gaal insisting the knock was nothing major. "It was a kick. A lot of players receive kicks and they can play in the next match."
United's injury list includes Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw, but Van Gaal hopes to have more of his players returning in the coming weeks.
"Players are coming back in March, I think, but we have to build them up also. You have seen how I did it with Marcos Rojo – 20 minutes and then [the plan was for] 60 minutes, though he did not reach that."
Specifically, Van Gaal is hoping of having Fellaini and Valencia back among his options soon. "Fellaini and Valencia are the next ones to come back, I think. Fellaini shall come into the last step of the process, team training, and also Valencia today has trained with the group, so they are coming back."
Van Gaal seemed less optimistic about Wayne Rooney's return, however, confirming the striker is still in a brace as he continues to recover from a knee injury.