With just one player left on Manchester United’s injury list and a new goalkeeper signed, manager Louis van Gaal is starting to enjoy life at Old Trafford as he tries to assemble the “best team in the world”.
Third-placed United, unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions, host fourth-placed Southampton at Old Trafford on Sunday with just a point separating the sides after 20 matches.
United were plagued by injuries at the start of the season but the treatment room has an emptier feel now as a number of first-team players close in on returns.
Luke Shaw, who signed from the Saints during the close season, is fit to face his former club after recovering from an ankle injury and midfielder Daley Blind has shaken off a knee problem he sustained in November.
Argentine defender Marcos Rojo will return to training on Saturday, leaving Ashley Young, who has a hamstring problem, as United’s only injury concern.
“We have only one player injured. Can you believe it? Only one,” Van Gaal told a news conference on Friday.
“Another point is, of course, match rhythm, but everybody is healthy and can play except Ashley Young who is out for four to six weeks.
“I have to select for the first team in my career at Manchester United the 11 and the 18 players.
“But I have to watch the qualities of Southampton, how I can reduce that quality by my line-up but also by our game-plan.”
United signed former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer on Thursday and the Spaniard will compete with compatriot David De Gea for the number one spot at Old Trafford.
“We were the first to buy a player. We were very quick to buy Victor Valdes. You notice? Manchester — we deal quickly. When we can, we deal quickly,” Van Gaal said.
“My ambition is that I have the best players who can cooperate with each other to form the best team in the world.
“I had the chance to see him and his behaviour in rehabilitation but also if his quality was still the same. He has confirmed both and that is very important for me.”
United beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s last month, Robin van Persie scoring both goals to secure a somewhat fortuitous victory against the run of play.