Van Gaal gives latest Man United injury update ahead of Villa clash

Chris Smalling is a doubt for Manchester United's clash with Aston Villa on Saturday due to illness

Chris Smalling is an injury doubt for Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Saturday, Louis van Gaal has revealed.

The defender was forced off early on during England’s 1-1 draw with Italy in midweek after feeling unwell and Van Gaal confirmed that Smalling is still struggling with illness.

Meanwhile, striker Robin van Persie is gradually closing in on a return to full fitness following his lay-off with an ankle injury.

The Dutch international is back in training with the Red Devils but Van Gaal suggested that he is lacking match sharpness.

Summer signing Luke Shaw is also close to being fully fit again after returning to training at Carrington this week.

“There is only Smalling, who is ill,” Van Gaal told MUTV. “He is still ill so I have to wait and see if he can train today [Friday] – it is very close to the game.

“Robin is coming back on the [training] pitch and Luke Shaw has already had a week on there, but match rhythm is very important. You cannot compare a player who has been out for four or five weeks to those that have sufficient match rhythm.”

Van Gaal continued: “We have a process for injured players in the medical department, they then go to a football coach for tests and then to me.

“Robin still isn’t with the football coach. He’s still not in my group. Luke Shaw is in my group, that’s different, but van Persie isn’t available.”

United head into Saturday’s game at Old Trafford in fourth place in the Premier League table and just two points behind defending champions Manchester City.

The Red Devils secured a 2-1 win over Liverpool in their most recent outing.

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