Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is confident of having Matteo Darmian back for his side's clash with Chelsea on 28 December and is hopeful the club are over the worst of their recent injury woes.
In recent weeks, United have been beset by injuries, particularly in defence where youngsters Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela have been forced to fill in.
Those concerns abated somewhat when Chris Smalling returned to the fold for the 2-1 defeat to Norwich City, but with Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo long-term absentees, the United boss remains short of options in both full-back positions.
Darmian, who suffered a hamstring problem in the defeat to Wolfsburg, is unlikely to make the Boxing Day (26 December) trip to Stoke City, But the under-fire Van Gaal told MUTV: "I think Matteo Darmian shall come [back] next week [to first-team training] and then maybe already against Chelsea. We have to see that but, of course, we have injuries that take a long time for example Shaw, Valencia and Rojo and you cannot change that.
"It's more or less the same, so there is no difference. Only that, for example, Phil Jones has played 90 minutes and had no reaction so that's a good signal."
In addition to Rojo, Valencia and Shaw, United will also be without Bastian Schweinsteiger for the trip to the Britannia Stadium. The Germany international is suspended after receiving a three match ban but will be available for selection for the Chelsea match. Jesse Lingard, meanwhile, is still unavailable after limping off in the 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth.
Van Gaal provided his injury update in his usual segment with the club's in-house television channel MUTV before addressing the media in his pre-match press conference. That exchange lasted less than five minutes, though, as the Dutchman got up and left after just two questions, not before wishing those in attendance a merry Christmas and a happy new year.