Louis van Gaal expects David De Gea to return against Barcelona on Saturday, although the Manchester United manager has confirmed Bastian Schweinsteiger will not play through injury.
The German has made two appearances on Tour 2015, presented by Aon, but has sustained a “little injury” in training that will prevent him from facing the La Liga champions at Levi’s Stadium.
De Gea is yet to make an appearance in the United States but the boss believes his Spanish goalkeeper will feature on Saturday, possibly from the beginning in an XI that will play for 60 minutes. Van Gaal also confirmed to MUTV that Antonio Valencia, who like De Gea has missed the opening two matches, is available again after a minor injury.
During his pre-match press conference the United manager revealed the team that starts against Barca could be selected to face Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on the opening day of the Barclay Premier League season on 8 August.
Asked if he will play two different line-ups on Saturday, just like he did in the previous victories against Club America and San Jose Earthquakes, van Gaal admitted: “I cannot do that because, for example, Schweinsteiger cannot play because he had a little injury. So maybe I have Schweinsteiger in my head in the line-up but I cannot do that, but I will play the line-up I think could play against Tottenham.
“We play the first 60 minutes so I have to make a selection already between players, if you play 60 minutes or 30. Our building-up programme was 45 so now you can see which direction I think.”
Quizzed on De Gea’s fitness and the chances of him starting the Premier League opener against Spurs, the boss told reporters: “When a player is injured, it is the same thing what happens in the season. Then you have to wait and you have seen it because in England it is more usual players are coming in after injuries, but I give them time to recover and build up their fitness.”
Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Javier Hernandez will all join the touring squad on Saturday, having enjoyed an extended break following their involvement in the Copa America and Gold Cup. On Di Maria, van Gaal says it is too soon for him to play against Barca.
“He cannot play in the game because we have to build him up,” the boss said. “When you come out of your holidays you cannot play a game immediately so that is out of the question.”
ROONEY CONFIDENT OF SCORING GOALS AND LEADING THE LINE THROUGHOUT 2015/16
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is confident of scoring goals during the 2015/16 season and admits he is relishing the responsibility of being Louis van Gaal’s primary striker.
The experienced, talismanic 29-year-old spent much of the last campaign playing in midfield but still managed to score 14 goals in all competitions, even finishing as the club’s top scorer. But the manager recently confirmed Rooney will play up-front this term and the player is up for the job.
“It is a positon where I think I can score goals,” Rooney told ManUtd.com and the media during Friday’s pre-match press conference at the Avaya Stadium, where the squad also trained. “Hopefully I can do that. I am ready to take that mantle on and be the one who gets the goals for us.”
Asked if he has set a personal target for the season, the captain claimed he is not looking beyond the tour. “None at the minute,” he said. “Obviously I’m working on getting fit and ready for the start of the season. I have never really been one to set personal targets, just to do well for the team.”
Saturday’s match against Barcelona in the International Champions Cup will provide United with an intriguing test following recent wins against Club America and San Jose Earthquakes, and Rooney is looking forward to facing the European champions and finding out what shape the Reds are in.
“Over the last few years they have been probably the best team in Europe and it is down to us to prove we are as good as them,” Wayne explained, ahead of Saturday’s 21:00 BST kick-off. “It is good that tomorrow they will be playing against us and it will show us where we are at.”
On the gap between United and Barca, Rooney continued: “At the beginning of last season the manager told us it would take a while to adapt to the changes. As players you don’t think it will but towards the end of the season, from Christmas, I felt we played some great football, understood exactly what the manager wanted from us and particularly in the big games we did really well.
“We can take that as positives. It was the games we expected to win where we disappointed ourselves. We know what is expected of us and what we have to do. We are positive and excited for the season.”
Unfortunately, new signing Bastian Schweinsteiger will not face the Catalan giants after suffering a “little injury” in training and the German will now hope to recover in time to face Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago. Nevertheless, Rooney is delighted the World Cup winner has joined the United ranks.
“He is obviously a fantastic player,” the captain praised. “Everyone knows that over the years and since he has joined up with the squad he has been a fantastic person, talking with all the players and the young players too which is a great help to them, having someone of that experience and who is that successful. He is a great addition to the team and I feel it will be a very good signing for us.”
As the most senior player in the United squad, and as skipper, Rooney also feels he has a responsibility to help the club’s four summer signings settle into the club this summer. However, as he was keen to point out on Thursday, our new recruits must ultimately look after themselves and impress.
“It is obviously important to help the new players settle in but the ones we have brought in are experienced and successful. I am sure they will add a lot to the team. I can try and help them learn about the history of the club and what is expected to be at this club and be successful but it is down to the players themselves to prove themselves and create their own history.”