Manchester United have been given a huge boost ahead of the Southampton clash with the news Wayne Rooney will return after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.
Rooney’s return is timely but Luke Shaw’s long-term injury which he suffered in the Champions League midweek will see him miss out on a return to his former club for the second successive season.
Van Gaal is well aware of the void Shaw will leave after such an impressive start to the new campaign.
“It’s a great loss. I have said in advance of this season already that it shall be the season of Luke Shaw,” the Dutchman told media ahead of Sunday’s game.
“He had started fantastically and everybody had seen that. It is a great miss, a great loss.”
Shaw’s absence will see United’s backline require a significant reshuffle and Marcos Rojo is expected to start, meaning Daley Blind might return to his favoured left back role although United’s manager has revealed that the left hand side could become unsettled.
“You have to build up again a combination with the player in front of him. Memphis and Shaw were a very good combination and now you have to build up a new combination.
“You have to start again and that is difficult. It’s also difficult for the player who has to replace him.”
Both sides have endured yet another summer of transition which has seen a huge upheaval of players come and go. Morgan Schneiderlin will return to the St Mary’s stadium for the first time after his big money summer move.
“I hope the reaction to him is a positive one,” Southampton boss Ronald Koeman said on Schneiderlin’s return.
“He did everything for the club, he had a great time in Southampton, he was ready for the next step.”
Schneiderlin was part of Southampton side which produced a defensive master class in their 1-0 win at Old Trafford last January, United failing to register a shot on target in the defeat as the Saints secured their first win at the Theatre of Dreams in 27 years.
Sadio Mane is expected to return to the Saints startling line up and after emerging as a late transfer target for the Red Devils in the summer window, Koeman will be keen for the Senegalese speedster to come back to haunt his old adversary.
All four of the league meetings between managers Koeman and Van Gaal have ended as away wins and the United faithful will hope that the sequence continues.
After losing back-to-back away games, Van Gaal will demand a reaction.
“We’ve already noticed we lost against Swansea and PSV Eindhoven,” came his response.
“In the Champions League it is important that you do not lose those away matches. We have time and also matches that we can improve in that way and we shall.”
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