Van Gaal backs overseas friendlies

first_img Van Gaal confirmed at his pre-match press conference that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans were still injured. Even though Tyler Blackett is back from suspension, Van Gaal plans to stick with Paddy McNair, the 19-year-old who impressed in last week’s 2-1 win over West Ham. Van Gaal was impressed with the Northern Irishman’s display against Sam Allardyce’s team, but he believes the defender will face a much harder task this weekend when he lines up against the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto’o and Kevin Mirallas. “We still have three central defenders injured so he (McNair) shall play,” Van Gaal said. “He is the only player who can play in the right-sided defensive position. “I chose him last week and he played very good. It’s difficult for a player like him to maintain that level – that is his biggest challenge.” Ander Herrera injured a rib in last week’s victory so he will miss the Everton game, but Marouane Fellaini, who has been missing since the opening day of the season with an ankle injury, has a small chance of making the bench against his old club. “Fellaini has trained for one week, but is not fit to play 90 minutes,” Van Gaal added. The United boss will have to do without captain Wayne Rooney this weekend following his reckless dismissal against the Hammers last Saturday. The Dutchman hinted that Juan Mata, who has been on the bench for the last two games, would start in place of the skipper. “In his position Juan Mata has played very well,” said Van Gaal of the Spaniard, who scored two goals in four starts before he was dropped. “I will miss Wayne because he is the captain of the team, but Mata can also play very well.” Van Gaal played down the idea that Everton will be there for the taking after their 4,000-mile round trip to FK Krasnodar in midweek. “It’s logical to say maybe we have the benefit but the motivation to play at Old Trafford against United is maybe much more important than the flight,” Van Gaal added. Everton just missed out on the Champions League last term, but this year they have taken just six points from six matches as they have struggled to get to grips with the extra work load that comes with playing in the Europa League. Van Gaal is expecting a tough test from Roberto Martinez’s men though. “It shall be a very interesting game. I know we lost to them twice last season so it will be difficult,” he said. “I have to say that I like Everton because they want to play football like I want to play football.” Louis van Gaal is fully supportive of Manchester United’s plan to play midweek exhibition matches in the new year. Managing director Richard Arnold confirmed earlier this week that United are discussing the possibility of playing glamour friendlies abroad at the start of 2015. The matches, which could take place in the Middle East, would provide Van Gaal’s team with some kind of action during the weeks when their rivals are in Champions League action. And it could, in theory, help the 20-times English champions recover some of the money they have lost by failing to qualify for Europe’s biggest club competition last term. Van Gaal raised concerns about United’s lengthy travelling during their pre-season tour of the United States, but he has no concerns about taking the squad away next year. “I agree with that (idea),” the United manager said. “We (Arnold and Van Gaal) have spoken last week with each other and also (executive vice-chairman) Ed Woodward, so I fully agree. “I’m used to playing midweeks but I have said in the first three months (of the season) we have to wait because it’s difficult enough for the players to adapt and adjust to the new play organisation and style and they shall honour that also but we shall play midweeks. “It’s good because I like to play games against high-level opponents.” Van Gaal’s immediate focus is on domestic issues, namely Sunday’s Premier League home game against Everton. The United manager continues to be hindered by major injury problems, mainly at centre-back. Press Associationlast_img

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