MANCHESTER, England - Robin van Persie's return to the Manchester United line-up gives new manager Louis van Gaal some welcome good news ahead of the Premier League match away to Sunderland tomorrow morning.
Van Gaal, hoping to bounce back from the 2-1 opening weekend defeat by Swansea, has been beset by injuries in midfield and Ander Herrera is the latest to be absent, with an ankle problem, alongside Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard.
Jonny Evans, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia could also miss the trip to the Stadium of Light but while Van Gaal has concerns in those areas, he has his first-choice attack available.
Van Persie was given extra time off after playing for a Netherlands side coached by compatriot van Gaal that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil.
But this weekend could see the striker make his first appearance in the Premier League since the 3-0 defeat by Liverpool in March.
Van Gaal's 3-4-1-2 formation is geared towards getting the best out of a forward three of Juan Mata playing behind Van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Since Spain midfielder Mata joined from Chelsea for a United, the trio have started just six times together in the Premier League.
Van Gaal is excited about the prospect of seeing van Persie and England striker Rooney, whom he has made United captain, playing in attack together.
"Robin is ready to play so that's a big benefit for our team so I'm very happy that he's now able to play," said van Gaal.
Meanwhile van Gaal has renewed his call for patience in the wake of the shock defeat by Swansea.
The Dutchman joked he had gone from a king to a devil in the space of two weeks.
While he has made light of the reaction to a first defeat since he took over, he accepts that United must get off the mark against Gus Poyet's Sunderland side.
"Sunderland will do everything, with the support of the home crowd, it will be a tough game but we need a victory and we'll do everything," he said.