Di Maria inching closer to Manchester United return

The Argentina international suffered a knock in training following the club's draw with Aston Villa but is nearing a comeback and is set to feature in training this week
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal expects Angel di Maria to return to training this week after missing fixtures against Newcastle United and Tottenham.

The Argentina international, who has made 12 Premier League appearances since his £59.1 million move from Real Madrid, suffered a knock in training after the club's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, during which he made a cameo from the substitutes' bench.

That game marked his comeback from a hamstring injury that had kept him out for three weeks and Van Gaal has now revealed that the 26-year-old is once again inching closer to a return.

"He's coming back," said the former Netherlands coach. "I think he shall train with us this week."

When asked if the star's injury was serious, Van Gaal added: "No, I have said that already."

Third-placed United are 10 points behind leaders Chelsea ahead of their trip to the Britannia Stadium, but Van Gaal has urged his side to concentrate on what they are doing rather than keeping an eye on their rivals' results.

When asked if United can afford to drop any more points, Van Gaal said: "That depends on Chelsea and Manchester City. They are the only teams who are above us and you have seen Manchester City, in spite of a 2-0 score at half-time, it was 2-2 at the end [against Burnley last Sunday].

"In our last three games - Aston Villa, Newcastle, Tottenham - we should have had nine points in my opinion so you can never predict. You have to always do it by yourself and not depend on results of the other teams.

"You just have to be busy with yourself, with your own preparation and imagination of the game ahead. All the players have to do that - dream of the game. You have to play the game already in your bed."