After scoring a hat-trick last time out, Robin van Persie's fitness is a big boost for Manchester United as they take on Wigan,
Preview: Manchester United have received a major injury boost ahead of their clash with Wigan at Old Trafford. Both Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa have been passed fit after picking up worrying strains while on international duty in the past week.
Perhaps even more encouraging for United fans is the return to the squad of Darren Fletcher. The Scottish midfielder hasn't made a first-team appearance for the club since last November as he has battled a serious bowel condition. However, after coming through a reserve game in midweek he is now set for a place among the substitutes.
"Darren's in the squad tomorrow, simply because I think it will give him a boost. It's a chance to progress," said manager Sir Alex Ferguson, according to the Manchester United website. "At this moment in time everything's going fine for him."
After suffering a surprise defeat to Everton, United have bounced back with two victories, but, having conceded four goals in the two matches, it's clear that the team needs to tighten up defensively.
With Rio Ferdinand set to play the second game of his comeback from injury and Jonny Evans also now fit, Ferguson will expect an improvement. The United boss faces arguably his biggest selection dilemma over who to select in goal. David de Gea was dropped last time out for an error against Fulham, but his replacement, Anders Lindegaard also wouldn't have filled Ferguson with confidence two weeks ago.
Given that he is seen as the United goalkeeper for years to come, De Gea should get the nod.
Wigan travel to Old Trafford with memories still fresh of their momentous win over Manchester United at the DW Stadium back in April. Manager Roberto Martinez faces an anxious wait on the fitness of both Jean Beausejour and Antolin Alcotraz. Left-sided Chilean Beausejour suffered a hamstring injury in the Latics last match with Stoke, while Alcatraz picked up a groin injury while away on international duty with Paraguay. Both will face late fitness tests.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
M: Cleverley, Carrick
Valencia, Kagawa, Welbeck
F: Van Persie
D: Boyce, Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa, Beausejour
M: Kone, McCarthy, McArthur, Maloney
F: Di Santo
Prediction: The fitness of Van Persie and Kagawa is sure to be significant, with it maintaining United's wealth of attacking options. The Dutchman has started his United career on fire, while there are also signs that he could enjoy a fruitful relationship with the silky-skilled Kagawa. With former-Latic Antonio Valencia also a consistent provider from the right, it is hard to envisage Wigan keeping the ball out of their net on Saturday.
There are signs, though, that Wigan could avoid their usual struggles to score, with Franco Di Santo looking more confident in front of goal and Arouna Kone also looking set to prove a quality addition. But with De Gea and the United defense unlikely to face the aerial attacks that have cause them problems this season, Ferguson could well be welcoming his side's first clean sheet of the season.
Manchester United 2-0 Wigan
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